NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It is the harsh reality that faces families in Guatemala.

Some children in this Central America country are born with deformities. One child is 20-month-old, Sofia who was flown to North Texas for a life-changing surgery.

“And they had told her, the mom, in Guatemala that she would be a monster all her life. There was no hope for her,” said Michelle Hollaender.

(courtesy: International Esperanza Project)

Sofia’s plight caught the attention of the International Esperanza Project and group’s founder, Michelle Hollaender. Michelle says esperanza means hope.

“And what we’re trying to do in Guatemala is to inspire hope in the people that have no access to medical care,” explained Hollaender.

Michelle was born in Guatemala and moved to Texas. Her passion caught the attention of local medical professionals.

Hollaender described it like this: “Out in the Highlands, that’s where we work, there are no hospitals. So, if other groups like ours weren’t in Guatemala people would die.”

The group, also known as IEP, goes beyond providing medical help to families. The volunteers have helped improve the local school and provided other support for families.

“I am very proud that Guatemalans are putting up their sleeves and working side-by-side with our doctors,” said Hollaender.

The International Esperanza Project has been around since 2017. They already go on seven medical and surgical missions a year to Guatemala. In five years, they hope to take a team there every month.

You can learn more about IEP by clicking here.