Spain's Queen Sofia traveled on Wednesday to the poorest part of Guatemala to learn first-hand about how Spanish aid is being put to use in projects to help society's most disadvantaged, including malnourished children and those with disabilities.
From Guatemala City the queen traveled by helicopter accompanied by Guatemalan first lady Rosa Leal to visit a Peace and Wellbeing Center, founded in 1979 by Spanish friar Rafael del Pozo to take care of disabled children.
Guided by Del Pozo, the monarch toured the facilities where 27 children with disabilities live.
The center not only attends to the needs of kids, but also provides a food program for mothers and families in very precarious economic situations.
"Some of them would already be dead if we had not removed them from the villages," the friar told reporters moments before the queen arrived.
Sofia's interest in the work, Del Pozo added, "is a joy for me and for this beautiful country, so poor but so dignified and honorable, like the people here."
The queen's arrival was received warmly and emotionally by those on hand.
The excitement and expectation among the children was quite evident, as in the case of 13-year-old Sofia, who lives near the center and came to the site to explain to the queen that she was named after her and to tell her of the admiration her mother feels for the Spanish monarch.
The young girl even was able to get the queen to give her an autograph and sign on a piece of paper "For Sofia from Sofia, with much love."
The workshops, the clinic, the meeting rooms, kitchen and dining room, pharmacy and all the center's activities are possible thanks to the contributions from assorted Spanish entities ranging from NGOs like Manos Unidas to Spain's AECID international cooperation and development agency and several institutions in the Andalusia region. EFE