In 1984 the intrepid and visionary Brother Ivo came to the Casa Franciscana Mission. His heart was moved by the many children he saw with disabilities who had no mobility aids and no resources. These limitations often relegated the little innocents to a future life of begging. With his knack for solving problems, his outstanding organizational skills, his talent for building relationships and his prayers to the Holy Spirit Br. Ivo was able to create a partnership with Shriners International. Overcoming visa and the myriad of governmental requirements, transportation, lodging and other issues, in 1990 the first van of children, with Br. Ivo accompanying them arrived in Phoenix, AZ at Maricopa Medical Center. The Shriners’ physicians from Utah were waiting for them. To this day the program continues providing not only treatment but also custom wheelchairs, braces, special crutches and other devices to give the children mobility and relieve pain. New mobility devices are furnished as they outgrow the old.
In some cases, surgery was able to be performed resulting in normal function. Hundreds, of children received life altering care and are productive and happy. The other vital piece of this ministry is the families and volunteers of the Franciscan Renewal Canter who coordinate the arrival of the mothers and children and bring them into their homes for food, lodging and friendship. Some of the stories follow.