In countries where corruption can be as rampant as the poverty, there are often things that go on behind closed doors that make you question if you really want to open that door.
I’ve opened these door many times – up to this point unafraid of what laid in waiting behind them. I have become all too familiar with the reality of the places I go in search of those who need help for my company’s annual incentive trip’s service projects.
I’ve been asked before how I deal with it – especially with children involved. What I say to that is this: one spoonful of hope can feed a child for a lifetime. For me to expose myself to another’s misery may temporarily relieve them of that misery. It’s not what you do for the small amount of time – it’s the hope you offer. And hope is way more valuable than anything consumable. This will never make me or anyone else a hero. But perhaps a messenger of hope is something better.
The Holy Spirit has always led me where I need to be. He has always led me to those who have hearts of servants. It’s refreshing to know there is someone fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves. Some of the areas I’ve been to do not always take care of their own. But, then some do.
One of those places is in Puerto Vallarta, Centro de Capacitacion y Convivencia para Silente. Translated, it means Center for Training and Coexistence for the Silent. We always called it the Center for the Deaf & Mute.
I first came to know of this organization in 2011, as it was one of our first corporate service projects. Since it is government-sponsored, high ranking officials and the local media covered our presence and what we were doing to help. Honestly, it was positive PR for the politicians, but, hey, that’s okay!
While there, I met Juan Carlos Pena Guitierrez. While setting up our service itinerary for 2017, I was able to revisit the center. Juan Carlos is still there! This time, I got his story.
He has a passion for the deaf in the community. In fact, so much so, he was fired from his position because he stood up for his principles. But then he was hired back a year later when his successor failed to be as successful. He refuses to let the children’s hearing disability define them and be used as a social crutch or excuse. He believes they need socialization with those who can hear in order to acclimate to society and be productive contributors. In fact, he has fought the notion of the center becoming a school because if that happened, the students would not be able to go to the local schools. Being a “center,” the students get additional tutorials in sign language and help with social skills and school work.
What makes Juan Carlos special beyond his leadership and love for helping those who are disadvantaged by their disability, is he gets it. When meeting with him, he could have asked for anything. He didn’t ask for money or a new building. He simply wants supplies to teach with. He wants the tools the school needs to maximize their impact with those who they have been given charge of, giving a few more cards than the hand they’ve been dealt.
And for that, I have the utmost respect. Juan Carlos is on the ground, building hope for those who can’t hear everyday. He is the hero because the hope he delivers can’t be measured by the spoonful. You can’t measure heart.