Refuge International

Improving lives through healthcare, nutrition, clean water, and education.

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Real People, Real Stories

Abner Cordova of Santa Cruz El Chol

Abner Cordova and his familyRefuge International met Abner Cordova and his family during a mission trip in San Raymundo, Guatemala in February, 2018. The Cordovas live in the municipality of Baja Verapaz, a rural area approximately 2 hours from San Raymundo, where most families (including the Cordovas) farm vegetables and grains.

The Cordovas told us that in January 2017, Abner began experiencing significant leg pain when walking, running and playing. Doctors at the national hospital discovered that Abner had osteosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer, which resulted in the amputation of his left leg near the hip. Today, Abner continues oral chemotherapy treatments and his current scans are clear of the cancer.

Abner CordovaPrior to his diagnosis and amputation, Abner loved working with his father in the fields, and the admiration he has for his parents shines in his eyes. His mother, Rosa, smiled shyly as she shared just how active her son is – showing us videos of Abner playing soccer (on crutches) with his best friend and riding his plastic tri-bike. When we asked Abner what his favorite subject is in school, a proud smile quickly spread across his face and he replied “Physical activity.”

While Abner’s operations were performed free of charge at the national children’s hospital as part of the country’s healthcare system, his oral chemotherapy and other medications cost the family hundreds of dollars each month, a stark reality for a family that resides in a region where most live on less than $5 per day. Providing their son with a prosthetic leg was financially impossible for the Cordovas.

Abner learning to use his new legRefuge International reached out to Transitions Foundation, a non-profit organization in Antigua whose mission is to mobilize people with disabilities, and we learned the cost to provide Abner with a prosthetic leg would be $4,447 USD. Transitions offered to contribute additional funds to build the prosthetic. In contrast, the type of prosthetic limb that Abner needed would have actually cost several thousand dollars more in the States.

Abner and his parentsThanks to the generosity of many in the Refuge community of supporters, we were able to give this clever, energetic little boy a new lease on life! The smile on Abner's face (and those of his parents) as he once again walked on two legs is one of the reasons we are here – to provide hope and resources to those that otherwise would have to do without.