unnamed-8Wanda Méndez, voluntaria del Hogar Niños Regazo de Paz, en Aguadilla, se ha caracterizado por sacar fuerza y trabajar aun cuando por dentro se hace añicos ante el dolor y sufrimiento de un menor de edad. Wanda dibuja pinceladas de amor en la vida de cada niño que ha llegado a su vida. Ya puede decir que lleva 12  años como voluntaria del hogar. Tiene un sinnúmero de historias y unas ganas infinitas de servir a los niños maltratados del país.

Aunque el albergue solo recibe infantes entre cero a ocho años, sobre 120 niños, víctimas de abusos sexuales, maltrato físico y desamparo, han pasado por las manos de Wanda.

“Son niños que llegan al hogar con mucho dolor. Son removidos de sus hogares por muchas razones. Pero verlos luego de un año, desarrollando destrezas sociales y educativas, es bien gratificante. Hay veces que hasta los mismas personas del Departamento de la Familia nos dicen ‘a la verdad que ese niño no es el mismo desde que entró al hogar”, señaló Wanda a PRTQ.

Entre los frescos recuerdos de la voluntaria, de 46 años y madre dos hijas, está presente un niño muy especial que fue admitido al hogar con 17 días de nacido. A pesar de que los médicos aseguraron que moriría, el niño, resultado de una relación de usuarios de droga, logró sobrevivir y ser adoptado por uno de los recursos del hogar, quien cuenta con cinco hijos adoptados del Regazo de Paz. Según Wanda, el calor de un hogar y una familia sirvió como la terapia por excelencia para subsanar las heridas del menor.

Aunque Wanda lleva el puesto de administradora, su labor en la organización sin fines de lucro va mucho más allá. La voluntaria, se encarga de pautar, teniendo en cuenta las necesidades de los menores, las citas de los once niños que actualmente forman parte de Regazo de Paz. Se coordinan servicios con psicólogos, trabajadores sociales, neurólogos y terapistas físicos, entre otros. “Hacemos de todo un poco. Si tengo que ingresar a los niños de madrugada también lo hago. De hecho, a eso me dedicaba en mis comienzos en el hogar”.

Para el año 2003, Wanda fungía como recurso “on call” para el ingreso de menores al hogar. Según explicó a PRTQ, su teléfono timbraba a cualquier hora, dependiendo del tipo de remoción de hogar y la salud del menor. En ocasiones, Wanda tenía que dejar a sus dos hijas, de 6 y 9 años para aquel entonces, con su esposo o llevárselas consigo para el hogar. A pesar de que las chicas disfrutaban de compartir con los demás niños, la mayor comenzó a interrogarse el por qué del abandono de estos menores “¿Por qué ellos están aquí? ¿No tienen papás? ¿Dónde están?” En el momento, la niña no logró entender el por qué y Wanda tuvo que dejar a un lado el voluntariado “on call” y encargarse de la administración del albergue, dentro de un horario más cómodo.

La conexión de Wanda con los niños desamparados no es pura casualidad. Desde sus once años, le tocó vivir de cerca el dolor del abandono. Su papá, deambulaba en las calles de Estados Unidos en busca de drogas y alcohol. Ante este panorama, y con dos hijas en brazos, su mamá no pudo lidiar con la situación y decidió escapar a Puerto Rico. Intentó llevar una vida en Yauco, pero no pudo con la carga económica, de transportación y de vivienda. A partir de ese momento, Wanda comenzó a rodar de hogar en hogar.

Entre lágrimas, la voluntaria del hogar recordó el momento en el que volvió a ver a su padre, justo horas antes de morir. Treinta y dos años después y con una metástasis fulminante, el papá de Wanda le dejó una valija con todas las cartas que envió hasta los Estados Unidos desde que cursaba el séptimo grado y de las cuales nunca tuvo respuesta.

“Le escribía pero nunca me contestó ni una carta. Supe de él cuando cayó en el hospital. Ahí me llamaron y me dijeron ‘Wandy, tu papá quiere verte’. Viajé de emergencia. Recuerdo que era jovial y jocoso pero en la cama del hospital no nos podía ni hablar. A las cinco de la mañana falleció. Me dejó una maleta con todas mis cartas. Se las leía a sus amigos borrachos. Él no sabía ser padre. Pero sí sabía el valor que tenía esa maleta para él y para mi”, dijo entre lágrimas.

El Hogar de Niños Regazo de Paz

La idea comenzó a manos de un grupo de jóvenes mientras veían el aumento de noticias sobre el maltrato a menores. Para el 1990, Regazo de Paz abrió sus puertas y desde ese entonces, ha logrado impactar a más de 537 niños y niñas alrededor de la Isla.

Hogar de Niños Regazo de Paz en Aguadilla.
Hogar de Niños Regazo de Paz en Aguadilla.

El enfoque primordial es proveerle a los niños maltratados, desamparados, huérfanos y/o víctimas de violencia doméstica, un hogar donde se les suplan sus necesidades básicas y se  les ofrezca el ambiente adecuado para su desarrollo. Además, reciben educación individual, servicios de salud y recursos básicos como vestimenta y alimentación.

“Trabajamos con infantes que han pasado por mucho sufrimiento y dolor en su corta edad. Hemos tenido niños que el Regazo de Paz es su hogar número 14. Es por eso que nos damos a la tarea de infundir esperanza y de recalcar la importancia de los valores humanos, para que así aprendan a estar agradecidos con lo que tienen. Pero lo más que recalcamos en el refugio, es que siempre tienen que dar lo mejor de sí”, concluyó Wanda.

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