The “Hogar de María”, Home of Mary, is an organization founded in 1998 with the aim of looking after the social, assistance and psycho-emotional needs of children and adolescents of both sexes who are mentally handicapped. They are between the ages of 13 and 15 and may or may not lack motor skills. They may be lacking a family or if they have one, for different reasons, they may not be able to satisfy their basic needs.
Mercedes de Rom tells us how the Home of Mary was born in her heart years before it became a reality in Mar del Plata: “Many and very profound have been the experiences which have taken form in my heart and mind in regard to the Home of Mary. I grew up with a sister who had a serious cerebral lesion. This caused me to experience from an early age what it means to have a handicapped person in a family. Aside from all that is related to a life bound to doctors, psychologists, neurologists, therapists and other specialists who cared for my sister, I grew up and naturally shared life with her who was “different” from other children. Time passed. I married my husband, Fernando, and we had three children who are now 22, 19, and 13. Then twin girls who are now 9 were born. One of them, Pilar, was born with Down Syndrome. Along with my husband, we experienced difficult moments having in our arms the twin girls, and one of them different from the rest of the children…..a beautiful little girl with a mental handicap.” A short time ago, Father Angel Strada, who from the beginning supported the foundation of the Home of Mary, was able to visit this place, a testimony to the transformation of pain into the challenge of love. This is the experience of Mercedes de Rom who after the birth of her twin daughters had “moments of great uncertainty, insecurity, anxiety, fear and also pain. A profound pain which God the Father offered with his great love. A pain which could be embraced or rejected. A pain like only God can offer and which with the great freedom he gives us, allows us to accept it or not.” What did she do? “Our Covenant of Love with our Heavenly Mother led us to embrace that pain and to accept it in our heart. It was her great Motherly love which helped us to transform that pain into a challenge of love. It is not a naïve love. It is a love which goes beyond ‘self’ to accept the loving plan of God in the child who is different…..the child with a slow mind, an akward gait, lacking physical harmony…..but with the heart filled with heavenly love, free of egotisms.” We needed the help of other parents who experienced the same as we. I began working as a volunteer in a Welfare Association and discovered that when we have a great pain in our heart, just by looking around, one can find someone who has a greater suffering and needs our support and our joy which sometimes we are not aware of having, and that by the grace of God we can offer it to that brother or sister who is suffering.” Seeing the result which poverty united to Down Syndrome had was the spark to act.
At the present, the philosophy of the institution places special emphasis on safeguarding and realizing the value of the concept of the Home of Mary so that in each instance of life of the children and adolescents who live there, results in a greater extent for developing wholly into persons … an extent where they can exercise their legitimate and inalienable rights acquired at the moment of conception: to grow, to live and develop their abilities with dignity.
Groups of professionals and volunteers work together daily so that the children can reach capabilities in accord with the needs and demands which the children possess, insuring that the activities which they develop within and without the Home of Mary are adaptable to the characteristics of their pathologies, their life histories, temperaments, capabilities, preferences, etc.
The Home of Mary is located in Mar del Plata, Argentina, in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. María Mercedes de Rom is the head of the board of directors. She is accompanied by a group of collaborators, professionals and volunteers who work hard for the development of these children.
The volunteers offer great possibilities to all persons who want to commit themselves to working with the Home of Mary…..from giving some of their time to those who want to work full-time. There is a group in charge of organizing events for raising funds. There is also a group of junior volunteers under the age of 14. They help out one Sunday per month at the Home of Mary and they play with the children and participate in different activities. The Home of Mary is maintained by contributions from partners and donations which come forth. Declared ONG (Non-Government Organization) from its foundation, it intends to be a support for these children and their families who need it.
Hogar de María
Monte Carballo Nº 2704
Telefax: (0223) 479-7796
7600 – Mar del Plata, Pcia. de Buenos Aires