Joni’s home in El Salvador is a lifeline for a mother with two disabled sons

SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR — Esmerelda’s pregnancy was typical and uneventful, but while carrying her son, she suffered domestic violence. Esmeralda feared that the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband would cause their new baby to be born with a disability. At five months, Kevin was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. When their second son Jairo was born five years later, he was also diagnosed with a disability. Esmeralda’s husband soon abandoned his family and she struggled to meet her sons’ growing needs as a single mother. How could she ever afford two wheelchairs and physical therapy when she can barely put food on the table? Trusting in God to meet their needs, Esmeralda discovered Joni’s home in El Salvador and the help that only God’s family could provide.

My first child Kevin, it was a normal pregnancy. No problem. But I had problems with the father. He would hit me. So we thought the child would be born with a disability from the beatings.

When he was born, everything was fine. But after five months, he had a strabismus. So we took him to the hospital to see if he had a disability and he did. We prayed for five years to be able to get pregnant again. We took care of ourselves and had all kinds of tests done. Doctors said there was no chance of having another disabled child. So I got pregnant.

When we were on treatment, everything was fine. The pregnancy went well. His birth was a little difficult because he was upside down. So they took him away for 15 minutes and they told me the child was fine.

No problem. But after 15 days, he started shaking like his brother. So he was hospitalized and I spoke to the doctor.

I said ‘I think the child has a disability like his brother.’

He said ‘No ma’am, you’re not mentally well. You think that because your first child has a disability, your second child has one too. They didn’t listen to me. And then he was sent to physiotherapists because he had a disability. When I told my husband about it, he said to me, “You and this child are not made for me. You died for me because I asked God for a healthy son and not a second handicapped one.

We spoke to the doctors and they said it was my husband’s choice if he wanted to stay and help the kid in rehab, great. If he doesn’t, you fight to pass. Sometimes I’m told “I’m sorry for you, ma’am”. For you and your children.

I say ‘Why? My children and I are coping with God’s help. I don’t feel sad. I am delighted to be their mother. God allowed me to take care of two children like them.

I am a woman who fights – to keep them alive. And as long as God allows me, I do.

For me and my children, Joni’s House is so important because they give us help that no one else gives us, only Joni’s House can do that. We felt the moral support and the emotional support. Not only the fact that they were praying for us, but when we needed real help with food, help with wheelchairs, they helped us. For us and for many people, it’s amazing what you do. I mean God has set up a ministry to help many families get through this.

Many of us don’t have the money to buy a chair, and you gave my two children a wheelchair. When we arrived my sons were so happy. They kept asking ‘Mom is this our house?’ Kevin and Jairo asked.

‘Look mum, our house is so pretty.’ I said ‘Yes son you’re right.’

I thank God for this family he has given us. It’s not a home, it’s a family.

For 40 years, Joni and Friends has provided gospel hope and practical resources to people affected by disability around the world. Ministry programs include Wheels for the World, Family Retreats, the Christian Institute on disability and church ministry training. Joni and Friends also offers inspirational media such as the Joni and Friends radio show and podcasts. To learn more, visit

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