Gabriela is 12-years-old and has never been to school due to being nearly blind and having developmental delays.
It is Gabriela’s story that brought together two of our co-founders, David Conway and Lauren Fishbach, and paved the way to their joining forces with Laura Larkin whose initial vision led to the launch of the Delia Foundation.
Lauren has known Gabriela since she and her twin sister were 1-year-old and living in an orphanage. At the time, Lauren was volunteering in the community with Global Volunteers. After being returned to their parents, the twins were ultimately removed from their home due to severe neglect resulting in malnutrition, other health issues, and developmental delays. A number of years went by without any word of Gabriela and her sister. Then, a friend connected Lauren to David, who has been volunteering in the Barlad community for 30 years, coordinating medical attention for children in need of surgeries for cleft palates and other issues. Through a local doctor, David located Gabriela who was now living in a foster home with a mother, father, and older brother. A happy reunion soon took place and it was a relief to know that Gabi was living in a stable home, although she had been separated from her twin sister. At the same time, it was sad to learn that Gabriela had never been to school due to developmental disabilities and poor vision. Sadly, the government had never provided funds for medical treatment and a congenital cataract had gone untreated, resulting in near blindness in one of Gabi’s eyes. Her other eye tends to turn inward which makes it even more difficult for her to see.
Gabriela travels about 40 minutes to the Delia Friend’s Learning Center. She enjoys the community of the Center and loves playing with the other girls or with dolls. Gabi’s vision difficulties are an extra hurdle to learning but our teachers continue to seek new methods of teaching adapted to her needs.