Wendy and Salvador are both doctors. They live in El Salvador with their four children: a college-aged son, twin teenaged daughters, and junior-high aged Johanne who has Down syndrome.
When Johanne was born with a disability, her family faced discrimination and rejection, including from the medical community.
The neurologist assessing Johanne told her parents that she was good for nothing—that she would never walk, talk, or understand anything because of her disability. They advised Wendy and Salvador to stop caring for Johanne, and to focus their attention on their other three children instead.
As physicians themselves, Johanne’s parents understood the challenges their daughter would face. And as believers in God, and wise parents, they knew better than to cast their beloved daughter aside. Trusting God as the ultimate doctor, they trusted that he would provide the way forward for Johanne, including the treatments and support she would need through each step of her journey.
“God is our doctor. We knew he would lead us to find support,” says Wendy.
Wendy and Salvador describe their family as being close-knit. Still, since she was little, Johanne’s needs have created challenges that can sometimes feel overwhelming.
As Wendy put it: “Johanne’s life has been very demanding. When she was born, everyone saw Johanne as a disabled child who was not worth fighting for. Her aunts, uncles, and cousins isolated themselves from her.”
To care for Johanne, Wendy had to stop working, leaving Salvador to provide for the family financially. Over the years Wendy has faithfully sought care for Johanne, and every opportunity for her to progress and thrive. Johanne has received care from a range of providers, from public institutions to private organizations.
With help, Johanne has gained a wide range of abilities. She loves sports, attends school, and even holds a position (and an official uniform!) as a member of the tourism police. She competes in the Special Olympics and loves connecting with other people. But even with all the progress Johanne has made, her family has still been searching for somewhere they feel complete acceptance and comfort.
God’s Provision Through Joni and Friends
Ever since Johanne’s family discovered Joni and Friends, they experienced meaningful and positive changes. At the core, both Johanne and her family members know they belong within the Joni and Friends community. And within a space of safety and belonging, Johanne has grown in many ways…Today Johanne receives targeted care at Joni’s House El Salvador including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and cognitive therapy.
“These therapies have helped her a lot!” says Wendy.
Today, in part because of the therapies Johanne receives at Joni’s House, Johanne walks, talks, and understands!
“Joni’s House helps keep Johanne’s life moving forward!”
Johanne receives physical therapy, speech and occupational therapy, and cognitive therapy at Joni’s House. Wendy shared that Johanne has recently made significant progress in a variety of areas:
At school, Johanne’s reading comprehension, speech fluidity, and writing skills have improved.
In sports, Johanne has made gains because of greater balance, essential to horseback riding, bowling, and other activities she enjoys.
Through speech therapy, Johanne can express herself more clearly and enjoy easier communication with others.
Support for the Whole Family
Johanne isn’t the only family member benefiting from Joni’s House El Salvador. Johanne, Wendy, and their whole family found complete Christ-centered care at Joni’s House!
“Here at Joni’s House it’s a family environment and the support is for the whole family. We get emotional and spiritual support, too. I can talk about things that are eating me up inside, and when it feels like I’m all alone, I’m reminded that I’m not alone. God is with me…
At Joni’s House people understand how the stress of disability can impact a marriage. And Johanne’s siblings are reminded that they are important, too. Joni and Friends has changed the way they see their sister. Now they understand Johanne and our family’s situation better. We used to be overwhelmed and lonely, but Joni’s House has united our family more. We all feel it!”
To Wendy, the love and care God has provided for Johanne—especially through Joni and Friends—has been nothing short of miraculous.
“Miracles on her [Johanne] are real. And my husband, my children, and I know it,” says Wendy.
“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”