FOF 2016 Annual Report & Financial Statement

2016 was a challenging year for the Board of Friends of FUNDAL, following the recent and sudden death of Board Chair Dr. Wynn Cherry. However, the board added new members, awarded a major grant, funded and coordinated specialized training for two FUNDAL staff, and started a scholarship fund in memory of Wynn.

[Continue reading the Annual Report] [PDF]

2nd Annual Guatemalan Children's Day Celebration November 4 in Memory of Dr. Wynn Cherry

When: November 4, 2017 from 5 to 7 PM

Where: St. Luke's Episcopal Church (Johnson fellowship hall behind church), 1737 Hillandale Rd., Durham, NC 27705 [see map]. Free parking available on church grounds. Thanks to Wynn's church for letting us use the space!

What: Silent auction including items from Guatemala, 50/50 raffle, Guatemalan meal starting at $5, and fun cultural activities.

Music: Live music by Durham-based "Goats in Trees"—including songs in Spanish.

Friends of FUNDAL is celebrating Guatemalan Children’s Day this year on Nov. 4 [see flyer PDF] in memory of Dr. Wynn Cherry, who served on its Board of Directors starting in 2011. Wynn provided leadership as Chair of the Board from January 2014 until her unexpected death on December 22, 2015. Wynn's leadership and her legacy as an educator with a passion for Guatemala continue to inspire us. Join us for an evening of fun, food, music, and more!

Proceeds from the event go to the Dr. Wynn Cherry Scholarship Fund, to provide funding for teachers at FUNDAL in Guatemala, to improve their knowledge and skills to work with children with DeafBlindness and other multiple disabilities, and to help them train other teachers for maximum impact.

More Information: See the flyer PDF for other information and buy raffle tickets online. RSVPs not required, but appreciated, to

FOF Helps FUNDAL Recover From Break-in

In May of 2017, the main FUNDAL campus in Mixco (outside Guatemala City) sustained a serious break-in, with approximately $26,000 worth of damage and stolen items. The campus alarm system was destroyed and all the computers and the equipment from the Adaptive Design workshop were stolen. Vandalism included broken doors, holes in walls . . . and much more.

FUNDAL staff immediately solicited donations of materials, equipment and furniture. Because of FUNDAL's good reputation, the generosity of many businesses and individuals in Guatemala, and the resourceful staff, many items were procured quickly. The school was able to re-open quickly, however many needs remained.

Thanks to generous support from people like you, Friends of FUNDAL (FOF) was able to award FUNDAL a grant for $6,000 – the largest grant we have ever given them. While FUNDAL found a donor to replace some computers and furniture, it still needed help to re-equip the computer lab, which is used by many higher level students for academics or to develop job-related skills. Part of FOF's grant covered those expenses.

The rest of our grant is being used to help replace and upgrade the school’s security system. Our grant funds are being combined with other local Guatemalan donations, including a sizable donation from one of FUNDAL's board members. We hope this new, and improved, security system prevents future break-ins so FUNDAL can continue to focus on the valuable work they do!

Without your support, FOF could not have made this timely and much needed grant to FUNDAL. ¡Gracias!

A Success Story: Student Lisbeth Marisol

Talented, friendly and a bit of a flirt, Lisbeth is now a fifteen-year-old teen. She has unique abilities to draw and design. Although she seems a little shy upon meeting new people, soon she becomes more comfortable and opens up. She enjoys the friendship of her classmates and is very attentive to the instructions of her teachers.

When she was born, the doctor told her parents that her life would be short and that she would be developmentally delayed with difficulty walking. Lisbeth had severe bilateral sensorineural hearing loss (deafness) and brain injury. Regardless, with a lot of hope in God, her parents did what they could to support their daughter. Then in 2013 they heard about FUNDAL and started the process to get Lisbeth to FUNDAL's nearest campus to them, Huehuetenango. While FUNDAL's first and primary mission is to provide education and services to children and youth with DeafBlindness, their individualized approach and specialized staff make them a unique resource for other children and youth who have multiple disabilities.

Because of Lisbeth's age, she was enrolled in the vocational center to be surrounded with other youth and realize her potential. She was using various forms of communication not suitable for her age such as: crying, ill temperament, and pointing to things she needed or wanted. In the two years that she has been participated in FUNDAL's program in Huehuetenango, she has learned to communicate in sign language. Lisbeth can now communicate with her peers in respectful ways and to behave more suitably for her age level. She’s learning to read, write, and is adding and subtracting. This has allowed her to better enjoy work lessons. Today Lisbeth is a more independent person in most activities.

Ethnographic Article about DeafBlindness in Guatemala

This article utilizes data from ethnographic research on deafblindness advocacy in Guatemala to show how families in this community create new forms of kinship with one another based on their children's shared diagnosis. The category of deafblindness expanded significantly in recent decades and now describes a diverse disability population. This case study shows that the umbrella diagnosis of deafblindness opens new possibilities for community formation and belonging, granting diagnostic intelligibility to children who would have received an ambiguous label of having "multiple disabilities" in the recent past. By proposing the concept of diagnostic kinship, this essay demonstrates that diagnoses can offer not only affective and logistical support, but can also generate new kinship possibilities and forms that are contingent on biomedical categories. Copyright © 2016 Elizabeth Lewis

Read the full article at Disability Studies Quarterly Vol 36, No 4 (2016).

Guatemalan Children's Day Event and Gifts Raise $4,050 for Wynn Cherry Teacher Scholarship Fund

Thanks to the many people who joined Friends of FUNDAL at our first Guatemalan Children's Day event and/or volunteered, donated items for the silent auction, bought raffle tickets and helped make our first Guatemalan Children's Day Event a success.

And the winner of the 50/50 raffle is . . . Marilyn (Marty) McClelland from Durham, NC. Marty won $850!

The big winners, however, are the teachers in Guatemala and their deafblind students and children with multiple disabilities.

Wynn Cherry
Friends of FUNDAL
Board Chair
Died December 22, 2015

The $2,580 raised at this event, plus another $1,470 in gifts given earlier in the year in memory of Wynn Cherry, provides initial funding for the Wynn Cherry Teacher Scholarship Fund (total $4,050). Wynn provided creativity, passion and leadership as Friends of FUNDAL’s Chair of the Board when she died unexpectedly on December 22, 2015.

The Teacher Scholarship Fund will support professional development for FUNDAL staff, training for other agencies and schools in Guatemala serving deafblind children, and training provided by FUNDAL in other countries.

See more 2016 Guatemalan Children's Day photos and videos of FUNDAL's students and teachers at their school in Guatemala at our Gallery.

Friends of FUNDAL

Friends of FUNDAL is a nonprofit organization that works to improve the quality of life in Guatemala for children, adolescents and young adults with deafblindness and multiple disabilities, and their families. We were inspired by the accomplishments of FUNDAL in Guatemala (Fundación Guatemalteca para niños con Sordoceguera Alex), a private, nonprofit Guatemalan organization.

Friends of FUNDAL supports the work of FUNDAL and other organizations that focus on providing educational training for children and adolescents with deafblindness and multiple disabilities, through programs ranging from early intervention to vocational training, including transition services, rehabilitation and vocational training for young adults.

We do this by raising awareness, providing financial support, developing resources, and supporting services, programs and organizations that care for educate and train children, adolescents, and young adults with deafblindness and multiple disabilities, and their families.