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A National Effort Helps Thousands of Children Feel Like Winners

By Mayra Beltran de Daetz

GUATEMALA: Last month, Guatemala celebrated an annual nationally televised event.
In a way, you could say it was our version of the Olympics. Not the one where athletes from all over the world compete for Gold medals, but one where everyday people compete against the odds to walk and live normal lives.

This past July 13 and 14, there took place Teletón 2007 on Guatemalan television. It is an event carried out by Fundabiem an organization that helps thousands of physically disabled people.

Fundabiem has a history of more than 20 years serving those Guatemalans who need their services. Year after year, the institution conducts this one annual fundraising event so that the thousands of people who need therapy for their disabilities can continue being funded — the majority being children all around the country.
This year’s poster-child was a girl named Dayri Jeréz.

All Guatemala watches the teletón, because the Guatemalan television channels give Fundabiem free airtime for two days pf continuous transmission.
On the teletón, they present invited artists to perform in between stories showing the big sacrifices the many parents undertake, so they can arrive at the physical therapy centers.
By the time the parents get to the centers, they are quite tired. In some cases, they have had to walk several kilometers, carrying the child, in order to be able to arrive.

Clinic sites funded by Fundabiem
The teletón presents different histories of the people that received their help, but the one that I saw that touched my heart was the one of a young rural professor with a handicap, that since he was a little boy, has attended the center Fundabiem.
Through the efforts of his family and his own, he was able to finish his career as a rural teacher, and at the moment, he is the pride and role model of his community.
In the video about his life, he said that one of his dreams was to be able to play soccer. After receiving his therapy, he was shown playing soccer with his students in a field.
Many of the wishes, as those of this young teacher, have become reality thanks to the charity and hard work of the thousands of employees working in Fundabiem.
This year, the teletón’s goal was to reach 15 million quetzals. They surpassed the goal of previous years, but the amount that they finally reached was only 12 million quetzals.
They were able to reach that goal thanks to the collaboration of a group of good Guatemalans, private companies that support the foundation year after year and the work of national and international artists that promote the teletón to motivate people to contribute.
I don’t want to leave out the ant (grunt) work of the many young boys and girls who walked in the streets carrying donation boxes with the logo of Teletón 2007.
These children requested help by taking advantage of the few seconds that the red light at the traffic stops granted them to run up to the cars and request coins from drivers.
Although, Fundabiem didn’t reach their proposed goal, I hope that throughout the year they will continue to receive contributions and that everyone who needs rehabilitation for their particular disability will receive it.
The organization has a heartwarming web site that exemplifies how Guatemalans help one another, and explains how the children and adults who benefit from this national fundraising event don’t need Gold medals to feel like winners.
Learn more about Mayra:
Mayra Etna Beltrán Molina de Daetz is a native-born Guatemalan who lives in Guatemala City with her husband and teenage son. After attending one of the most noted secretarial schools in the country, Mayra graduated with a secretarial certification — and the ability to speak and write English, as well as, know French.
Yet, she wanted more of a career and so she took architect and graphic design classes at a local university in Guatemala City. Unable to finish her university studies due to finances, Mayra became a stewardess and has over 100 hours in the air.
Yet, she always wanted to be involved with the media and so she returned to school and was able to get a degree in sales and marketing.
As a result, she has worked for a weekly magazine and a newspaper.

I have had opportunity to attend International congresses, in which I have known very important people at the more important international newspapers, which has been a very gratifying experience and has allowed me to have friendships outside of my country.

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