Meet Maria and Alba

Traveling from Honduras, Maria and her mother Alba called RMHC Dayton home for two and a half months. Maria was born with a cleft lip and cleft pallet, requiring three surgeries to correct the condition, including a bone graft when she was ten years old. Wanting to continue with final corrections, including a nose and upper lip reconstruction, plastic surgery, and a dental implant, Maria met resistance from her doctors. “We did scans back in Honduras and were told that there was not enough bone to continue advancing in procedures. I was devastated.”

Luckily, a commercial would connect Maria with Shriners Children’s Ohio. “One day my father was watching National Geographic and saw an ad for Shriners Hospitals for Children, treating kids with the same condition as me. He showed the commercial to me, and after talking it through with my family, I applied.” It took two and a half years of working with the care coordinator, sending pictures, scans, and additional information before Maria received her acceptance letter.

After the initial relief of receiving the go-ahead from Shriner’s, a new worry arose. “We couldn’t afford a hotel. My father, who is retired, was nervous about the financial burden, but he knew that we had to make an effort to find a place to stay that was near the hospital. We were so overjoyed to hear about the Ronald McDonald House from our coordinator.” When Maria and Alba finally arrived, they both had the same thought, “Wow!” Maria further explained, “This house has all the facilities. There was a big kitchen, which excited my mom because she loves to cook, and the staff was very welcoming. It became like a second home. The house and staff gave us more than what we needed. We are thankful that we got here.”

Alba added, “We feel like the people who are here received us with love. There’s hope for other families to stay here. You get to meet so many new people from all over the world and discover new cultures. Even though our children have different conditions, the other moms would meet up daily to connect over our shared journeys. It’s been a beautiful experience to bond with the other mothers, and we’ve been up until midnight or later just chatting and swapping stories.”

The mother-daughter duo never had a dull moment at the House. When they weren’t gathered in the kitchen catching up with the other families, the pair worked on puzzles or enjoyed other House activities. Maria especially loved having the therapy dogs visit every week.

“If I could use three words to describe this House, they would be love, opportunity, and hope,” marveled Alba. “The House provided a wonderful community, and everyone from the staff to the volunteers wanted to help and serve the families.” Maria added, “I hope to come back one day, not as a patient, but as a volunteer.”