At the age of seventeen, one would expect a teenager to celebrate the tail end of their high school years, looking ahead to the possibilities of young adulthood. For seventeen year old Franklin Cardozo, however, his educational goals were interrupted by severe financial and health limitations. With the help of Dharma Social Projects and Puente de Solidaridad, Franklin’s family hopes to change the young boy’s quality of life.

Franklin is one of six children in the Cardozo family. By the age of twelve, Franklin stopped attending school due to his family’s lack of economic resources. Upon visits from social workers, the family’s great financial constraints were evidenced by their one bedroom home for eight members of the family. The need for economic mobility led Franklin to work in the agricultural sector at a young age, then in tire repairs. After this job, Franklin fell ill and began to work with an uncle in construction, but later fainted and was taken to a doctor. After a series of medical evaluations, doctors determined Franklin suffered from Atrial Septal Defect, a condition characterized by a hole in the wall separating the upper left and right chambers of the heart. Franklin’s case was severe and would require open heart surgery to repair the defect.

Franklin’s family became increasingly concerned as Franklin began talking less and less and was suddenly incapable of moving independently, relying on his mother to move around their small apartment. Franklin’s dream was to save enough money to purchase a taxi to help his family, but all of the money he saved was used up in the overwhelming barrage of medical exams. Unable to afford the cost of a complex heart surgery, Franklin’s family was referred to Puente de Solidaridad and Dharma Social Programs who committed to helping Franklin and his family. This tremendous gift of support made it possible for Franklin to undergo surgery on April 6th at the Incor Hospital in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. This gift of support has allowed Franklin to return to the possibility of living out his adolescence with improved health and conviction.

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