By all accounts, 18-year-old Azucena Lopez is a happy girl. Always quick to smile, she makes friends easily. When she plays her recorder in her family’s yard, located near the Buckner Family Hope Center in Xoxocotlan, Mexico, the notes float over the wall to the delight of neighbors walking by on the gravel road.
But Azucena’s life is not without challenges. She is developmentally delayed and blind, only able to distinguish between light and dark. Born with a cleft palate, she’s in need of corrective surgery. She mourns the loss of a sister last year.
Buckner Mexico social worker Irma Laguna Escorona always gives – and receives – smiles when she visits Azucena’s family or sees them at the Hope Center down the road.
“Azucena is very cheerful, very happy, very affectionate," Escorona said. “She loves to attend all the activities. She really likes for someone to come and take her to the activities. She always asks me, ‘Are you going to come and take me?’ Sometimes I can, and sometimes I do not, but they always find a way to get there.”
Recently, there were more smiles as Azucena celebrated a first in her life: Her first real bed. Part of a corporate donation by The Bed Boss, the single mattress changed her demeanor, as well as her life.
Gilbert Montez, Buckner International director of church relations, presented her with the gift. “The emotion was overwhelming for me because when she touched that mattress, I saw her face. I saw her eyes light up. Her eyes told me she was so happy."
“I thought, ‘Here’s a young woman experiencing a sense of freedom at her age and here’s new hope.’ Thinking of the trials she has, the medical issues, the pain, the way she may have been looked at by society, I pictured her resting comfortably in her own bed: That’s a vision of peace and comfort. The gleam in her eyes said, ‘I have hope. This is going to be good.’”
Azucena’s mother, Reina Carmela Lopez Hernandez, was just as excited as her daughter and thanked The Bed Boss and volunteers who brought the new mattress to the home. The family has been active at the Xoxocotlan Family Hope Center for three years, including classes, workshops and children’s activities. Hope Center staff members also are working to get Azucena the medical attention she needs.
“I thank you very much for giving us this blessing,” Hernandez said. “I thank you very much, and may God help you at all times. She needed this so much and now she’s happy. She’s never had her own bed. She sleeps with me in bed.”
Buckner Director of International Humanitarian Aid Steve Watson said the donation of 500 mattresses by The Bed Boss is critical to Buckner efforts to help children and families in seven countries, including the United States, where Buckner serves.
“We could not provide the level of aid we do without donations like these. The effect of donations like this is that it frees up money for other things that aren’t donated. It’s a huge blessing.”