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Fall 2023 newsletter


Joe Loney and Filo Siles, Bolivia

Jhon Alex, with Filo and his mom, Doña Benita

We continue to endeavor every day to turn our vision of justice, compassion and dignity for the people with disabilities in Bolivia into a reality.

Jhon Alex walking with his mom

Jhon Alex walking with his mom

Two of the persons with whom we strive to achieve a measure of justice and dignity are Doña Benita and her son Jhon Alex. Jhon Alex, despite his 13 years, is the size of a 6-year-old, extremely thin with his arms and legs at times bent at odd angles in almost a pretzel-like manner. He was born with severe physical and intellectual disabilities. He cannot talk. He needs constant supervision. No school exists for his special needs.

Doña Benita is a single mother who works in the fields of her neighbors, earning just enough for her daily bread. Since she does not have a car or motorcycle and cannot afford to hire a caregiver for Jhon Alex, she carries him on her back to reach the neighbors’ fields, often a mile or more away.

When Filo and I met Jhon Alex, he could not stand nor walk. Doña Benita had been told by the local doctor that her son would never walk. She wondered if God was punishing her and had come to the conclusion that things would never change. Carrying a 13-year-old on her back just did not appear to us to be sustainable. But the dirt roads and trails were not passable for any wheelchair.

We tend to challenge assumptions, so we had Jhon Alex re-examined by our doctors and learned that there was no physical reason that he could not walk. After conferring with our team, we decided that we would have our physical therapist begin an intensive therapy schedule, including teaching his mother the exercises to double up on his therapy. We prayed that it was just the lack of muscle development that prevented him from walking.

After six months, Jhon Alex is now able to stand and walk 20 feet on his own. Jhon Alex smiles when he walks, and his mother has regained her faith that a better tomorrow can be achieved.

Although he needs to continue to develop his motor skills, we rejoice in the good news that we have been able to provide John Alex and his mother with dignity, justice and compassion.

During this past summer, Filo and I have been sharing Jhon Alex’s story during our visits to many parishes in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, where we seek partners to join us in mission — asking for prayers and financial contributions to continue our work.

Jhon, Filo and our physical therapist, Liz

The support we have received has been a tremendous blessing. Yet the needs of the more than 300 children, youth, adults and senior citizens are many. We want to make a difference for them, just as we did for Jhon Alex and his mother.

Your financial assistance will truly make a difference. A donation of $60 would allow us to provide medication for one year for a person with epilepsy, and a donation of $500 would permit us to provide physical therapy to a group of 20 persons for a month.

Can you partner with us so that persons with disabilities can experience justice, compassion and dignity? Please support our mission work in Bolivia with a donation through the link below.

We also invite you to walk with us as our “COMPANIONS IN MISSION.” Companions in Mission are friends and generous donors who give financial gifts on a regular (usually monthly) basis. For more information, visit Become a Companion in MissionThank you so much for your generosity! 


Joe Loney
A Maryknoll lay missioner since 1995, Joe Loney oversees a social-inclusion project for persons with disabilities (Avancemos Juntos para la Inclusion Social de las Personas con Discapacidades) in Tacopaya, Entre Rios and Cochabamba, Bolivia.