The Mateo Family

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November 20th is a day we won’t soon forget.  We had the opportunity to meet Ludwin, a paraplegic artist and his family.  Yes, I said paraplegic artist…but let’s start from the beginning:

Ludwin was born in Guatemala a paraplegic.  He has practically no use of his body from his shoulders down.  He can move his arms slightly with the force of throwing his shoulders; this is how he gets around on his electric wheelchair (which is broken, by the way).  Yet as I sat there and talked to this man who has no control over his body, I was amazed at his attitude and outlook on life.  I honestly don’t think he ever stopped smiling.  Missy was having a blast with the kids.  She looked like the pied piper with kids all around her laughing and goofing around.  As I looked out the only window they have, which is about the size of my head, I noticed we were on top of a huge valley that is a mural of shacks and shanties as far as the eye can see.

Ludwin with his two brothers.

Ludwin with his two brothers.

“Thank you so much for taking the time to come see us, we hope that we get to spend time with you again!” Mateo’s final words continue to ring through my brain.  They were so happy just to have visitors.  Mateo grew up in an orphanage specialized for handicapped children.  When he was old enough to do so, he decided to leave the home so he could live with and support his family.  He moved in with his mother and brothers and sister.  A lifelong friend, Cezi, decided to help Mateo as it is quite difficult for him to take care of himself and he certainly didn’t want to be a burden.  Eventually, Cezi and Ludwin began to have feelings for each other and they are still together today with 3 children.

Last year, Ludwin’s mother passed away.  It was heart wrenching for the family but they keep pressing forward.  Ludwin, although he is an amazing artist (he paints with his mouth), was having difficulty selling his paintings.  It is hard to sell art when you live in a community that can barely afford food.  Ludwin used to spend time with missionaries regularly; they used to live in an area where a traveling ministry would visit periodically and Ludwin was able to learn some English from them.  “Will you help me get back to speed with my English?” he asked me.  “I’d love to,” I replied, trying to figure out how I can make it happen.  Whenever Ludwin meets folks he tries to sell them his artwork.  He has since sold everything he has painted but now does not have the space to paint more.  To cut down on living expenses, Ludwin and his family recently moved into the room they are staying in.  It is a 20x20ft room; 9 people are living there.  They share a bathroom with the adjoining room.  Ludwin’s dream for his family is to obtain a small piece of land so their family can live comfortably and he can pick up his painting again.  Where they are living now it is just impossible, they barely have room to move around much less set up an area to paint.  Ludwin said one of his former teachers is willing to supply him with whatever materials he needs once he is ready and able to start painting again.  Here is a little of the artwork he showed me while we were there:

This family currently makes about $125/ month and more than half of that goes towards rent.  Cezi and Elias (Ludwin’s brother) make $2 each per day selling bread for a local bakery.  The family has also started a new venture in helping a local bottling company put labels on its bottles.  Virginia, Ludwin’s sister, moved in with the family to help take care of the children when Cezi is out selling bread.  Elias also has a prospective job for December, but it will only last a month.  Meanwhile, Ludwin’s prospects for work is limited to begging for money on the streets until they can afford a bigger place where he can paint.  Ok, I think I’ve led you all on enough now and gave you a teaser with Ludwin’s sketches.  Click here to see his website where he has displayed some of his paintings.

Do you want to invest in this family?  Will you help alleviate some of the economic strain this family has been subject to?  It is clear to us that with just a little help, this family can have their own home and Ludwin can be on his way to providing for his family, a dream he has had since he’s been a young man.  If you would like to be a part of Ludwin’s family realizing their dreams, escaping further poverty, and even having the chance to buy one of his beautiful masterpieces,  contact Servants or click here to download and submit a sponsorship form.

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