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Niños de Chapala y Ajijic

By Doug Friend


lopez-marquez-juan-paulOn Christmas Eve, 1999, Mariela Lopez Marquez received surprising news from her doctor. She was pregnant, and already five months into her pregnancy. A short four weeks later, Juan Paul was born.

At three months premature, Paul’s vision was severely underdeveloped when he was born. Paul has had three different surgeries to try to improve his vision. At present, Paul can only see what to you or I would look like shadows. His doctors have told his parents and him that further surgeries will not help improve his vision. Paul gets eye infections quite frequently, and has to apply expensive medication every day.

Paul’s mother is devoted to her son, and to seeing him get a quality education. Paul is in grade 6, and attends the Instituto del Niños Ciegos (School for the Blind) in Guadalajara. Mariela takes the bus with Paul five days per week, traveling from their home in downtown Ajijic. Paul’s school cost is $500 Pesos per month, but they have also the added cost of taking the bus (city bus as well as the bus in and out of Guadalajara), food while in the city, and the usual expenses for uniforms & books. With Mariela taking care of her son, the family survives on the one income his father Javier earns as a laborer.

In researching this article, I have come to learn two things. The first is that Paul is an extraordinary young man! He is a very warm and affectionate, always quick with a hug. He is also very determined, and not one to let his disability get in his way. He loves to play soccer, excels in school (GPA of 8.7), and is passionate about music, especially percussion. You’ll always find Paul at the “Drum, Dance, Tap your Feet” gatherings held at the Ajijic Amphitheater on the Malecon.

The second is that with Paul’s disability, his added costs for school, transportation and medicine, and his family surviving on only one income, Paul and his family so desperately needs a sponsor. Well, we have the perfect one! I’m the drummer for a band called ANIKAN, and ANIKAN works with NCA to put together fundraising concert/dinner events each year. All the members of the band are thrilled that we’re able to help Paul, and look forward to seeing him continue to excel!

You too can find someone special like Paul for sponsorship. Sponsoring a child costs so little, and the reward of knowing you are helping to change a life is simply priceless!

At the present time there are over 80 deserving children awaiting sponsorship. The cost to sponsor a child is $85.00 USD per year for a child in Primaria (Elementary); $150.00 USD for Secondaria (Junior High); $360.00 USD for Preparatoria (High School); $1,200.00 USD for Universidad (University). There is an optional fee of $120.00 USD as an “Extra Help” package.

You can also help by visiting our Thrift Shop. We gladly accept donations, will come and pick up larger items, and take consignments. Our inventory is always changing, but we always have interesting clothing and household items available. The thrift shop is located in Riberas del Pilar, 95B on the Carretera.

To learn more about NCA, our upcoming events, and children that are looking for sponsorship, please visit

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