More Than a Wheelchair: How HHI Helped Jarelin Thrive

Jarelin María from Miches, Dominican Republic, was born prematurely at 28 weeks, spent more than a month in an incubator and has battled significant health challenges from the very beginning. Doctors diagnosed her with severe psychomotor delay, cognitive disability with epileptic seizures, and a projected lifespan of only two years.

A Fighter from the Start

In the face of these daunting challenges, Jarelin’s mother, Niurka, became Jarelin’s constant companion, dedicating herself entirely to her daughter’s care. This made it difficult for Niurka to maintain outside employment, however, leaving the family financially dependent on Jarelin’s 16-year-old sister.

Though her diagnosis may have painted a bleak picture, Jarelin is now 12 years old and has defied that original two-year lifespan prediction.

A Turning Point and a Gift of Hope

In June 2023, a surgery aimed at improving Jarelin’s mobility offered a new ray of hope. During one of Jarelin’s hospital visits for pre- and post-surgical care, the staff at Fundación Hospital El Buen Samaritano noticed how incredibly difficult it was for Jarelin’s mother to have to carry her everywhere.

This is where our partner Cross Catholic Outreach stepped in, recognizing the hardship the family faced and requesting help from Heart to Heart International (HHI).

HHI was able to donate a wheelchair to the family through its Access to Medicine program. The wheelchair has helped the mother care for Jarelin, making transportation outside the house, especially for hospital visits, much more manageable. It has significantly improved their daily life, granting Jarelin newfound independence and Niurka much-needed relief.

A Bright Spirit Shines Through

Despite her health challenges, Jarelin’s spirit remains bright. She is a happy, lively child who finds joy in painting, singing, and everything related to art.

“While her mother’s ultimate wish has always been for Jarelin to walk someday, her primary desire is for her daughter to live a healthy, enjoyable, and happy life, no matter the clinical condition,” said Cross Catholic Outreach. The wheelchair helps with this immensely.

How You Can Help

At HHI, we are committed to supporting families like Jarelin’s. Your support helps us provide hope, essential medical equipment, and a brighter future for those who need it most. Consider donating to HHI to help us continue making a difference in the lives of others.

Jarelin and her mother Niurka with her wheelchair