In 2016, Juan Padilla’s life took an unexpected turn. He was aggressively assaulted, leaving him completely blind.
The Story of Juan
Juan lives with his wife and daughter in his deceased parents’ house in Pamplona Baja, San Juan de Miraflores, one of the most dangerous districts of Lima, Peru. Two years ago, he was a taxi driver and the only economic support of his family, until he got assaulted on his way home from work.
As he was walking home, five men got off a moto-taxi, took all of his belongings, and then began kicking him until he dropped onto the street. But this wasn’t enough for them and before leaving, they threw a chemical in his eyes. This is a technique that robbers use to keep their victim from recognizing them in the police station.
He was left in the street, and his left eye began swelling and turning purple. When Juan’s wife saw him, she took him to a local hospital, Maria Auxiliadora, but they couldn’t help him without an appointment. After three long months, he was finally able to see a doctor. Unfortunately, after waiting so long, it was too late to start treatment for his left eye and he had permanently lost his vision. But the doctor told him with surgery, he could save the sight in his right eye.
After the surgery, Juan was showing signs of recovery and began to do some simple work. He helped his friend trim threads on the t-shirts he was making to support the Peruvian soccer team, so he could support his family and cover some of his medical costs. But this wasn’t enough.
How MEDLIFE Got Involved
One day, Zoila Dorado, a friend of Juan’s that knew MEDLIFE through its mobile clinics, told him how the organization helps provide quality health care for people who can’t otherwise access it. Juan didn’t hesitate to reach out and contacted one of MEDLIFE’s nurses, Ruth.
When Ruth heard his story, she knew she had to do something, so she enrolled Juan in MEDLIFE’s follow-up patient program. First, MEDLIFE supported him by paying for his medicine and special glasses, but since he had stopped working, this wasn’t a sustainable solution for his family or for MEDLIFE.
Luckily, thanks to volunteers that participated in a Service Learning Trip, we were able to give Juan a carrito sanguchero (sandwich cart), where his wife could begin to work selling things like burgers and orange juice. They couldn’t stop smiling when they were presented with the cart, knowing that they would be able to make an income again.
But the story doesn’t end there. A few months passed, when Juan was assaulted once again. His attackers hit him so hard with a baseball bat this time that his glasses broke. Even in this incredible pain, Juan stood up and went home. On his way into his kitchen, it all turned black. Juan was completely blind.
At first he was depressed, but thanks to his family, MEDLIFE volunteers, staff, and donors, he has been given hope.
Juan’s Hopes for the Future
Now, Juan is enrolled in a program in CERCIL (Lima’s rehabilitation center for the blind), where they teach him how to live and develop professionally. It also connects him to fellow blind people, which makes him feel he isn’t alone and gives him the opportunity to swap stories and advice.
Juan told us there was a man from Ica, “and he came to CERCIL asking for help. He likes sports, especially running, and now is about to participate in the Pan American games. This made me ask myself – if this man can do it, why can’t I?”
By attending a Service Learning Trip, you help us support MEDLIFE follow-up patients like Juan Padilla, and give them hope for a better future.