"When we were approached by a school for visually impaired students, requesting our help to educate José Miguel, a 12 year old visually impaired boy, we honestly were very afraid of how we would face such a challenge" says Yohani Benitez, the principal at Colegio Cristiano Reformado San Pablo.  She assumed this would be a very difficult task, considering that the school does not have a trained teacher to work with visually impaired students.  A staff meeting was called and they voted on admitting Jose Miguel. 

“The mission of Colegio Cristiano Reformado San Pablo is to offer access to Christ-centred education to all children of the San Pablo community. Despite his limitation, José Miguel is an image-bearer of God, therefore we will have to find a way,” the staff responded. That is how José Miguel became the first blind student at San Pablo Christian School. 

Although there is a special school for blind children, it is far away from the community and José Miguel’s family do not have the financial means to support him to go there.  So that school offered to provide training and some tools to help San Pablo serve the educational needs of José Miguel.

"Having José Miguel with us has been a blessing for everyone at the school. We have been able to address his educational, emotional and spiritual needs, but we have also seen how the other children are very compassionate and caring to him. They involve him in games like any other fellow student, while being mindful of his visual limitation,” shares Agustina Campusano, a teacher at San Pablo.

Colegio Cristiano Reformado San Pablo had a surprise visit from the school for visual impaired children to assess José Miguel’s condition, and to make sure he was receiving proper attention.  The visitors were delighted because they found José Miguel working in a small group with four other children as they were doing their assignment of the day. Obviously, he had adjusted very well and was welcomed by the other children at the school. José Miguel also demonstrated his writing and communication skills using his Braille language equipment, as well as a great capacity to memorize, by making a wonderful project.  His disability is not an obstacle to sharing his intelligence.

In one of the school’s recent weekly chapel services, José Miguel, along with other fellow students decided to publicly confess Christ as his Lord and Saviour.  He asked Ruth Esther, a teacher who lives in his neighborhood, to take him along to church on Sundays.

José Miguel lives with his mom, Ingrid, his older sister, Esther, and with his grandma. His father Miguel Taveras doesn’t live with them but is very attentive to the child’s needs. He mentioned that Colegio Cristiano Reformado San Pablo provided the first opportunity in José Miguel’s 12 years to be able to go on a field trip with his school, since his parents had always been hesitant to trust other people with his care.  

José Miguel is thankful for San Pablo: “I feel very good because the school yard is wider than where I was before.  When students are leaving the classroom for their break time, now I feel it is safe to go along with them. At my previous school I had to wait until all my classmates were out first, otherwise they would run me over.  I always had to go out last. Here my classmates and teachers treat me with love and make me feel like a prince."

"José Miguel has been a blessing for us all.  Some of our teachers are being trained to work with children like him, and our students are learning to make room for children who look different or suffer with some type of disability.  José Miguel has helped us to become aware that there are aspects of our school facility that need to become more accessible to people with physical disabilities.  

Please pray for us and consider supporting our schools as we continue to grow and learn how to serve more effectively those with the greatest needs such as José Miguel.”  - Yohani Benites.

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