If you ask Amy DeYoung, she knew she was never meant to live her life in the United States. DeYoung grew up in Illinois, but moved to Guatemala after receiving her college education. Her training is in occupational therapy, but she helps with a little bit of everything in the developing world.
Much of her time is devoted to helping mothers with disabled children. “When she has a baby born with special needs, in those rural towns, it’s often looked on as a curse to the family: something that the mother did caused her baby to be born that way,” DeYoung said.
Many times she’s watched as family members struggle. “I’ve had lots of moms tell me that the mother-in-law tells them, just kill it, kill it. It’s just going to ruin your life,” DeYoung said. “Telling her to kill the baby once it’s born, telling her to let the baby starve to death.”
Sometimes it takes a little convincing. “When I meet a mom of a child that I’m going to work with for a long time I tell the mother that it’s not her fault,” DeYoung said. “That there was nothing that she did that caused her baby to be born with those special needs and that her child is a gift from god.”
Many disabled people in the developing world live without mobility for a majority of their lives. DeYoung has witnessed what mobility does for the disabled.
“It gives them a feeling of dignity and independence and many of them haven’t lived with dignity,” DeYoung said.
Meet the others who are part of the solution: