Erik’s Story: How a Baja Boy’s Life Changed With “Aid for Baja”

Erik Estrada, or Eddie as he was called in the Agua de Las Flores neighborhood in the San Quintin Valley of Baja California, was born with cerebral palsy, and at 11 years old, he badly needed surgery on his injured right foot. He was also the first youngster from Baja’s San Quintin Valley who was enrolled in the Shriner’s Program by Aid for Baja California (ABC) to receive surgery at Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Los Angeles.

Young Erik Estrada (right) in Baja California, before surgery.

Young Erik Estrada (right) in Baja California, before surgery.

Erik before surgery on bicycle, donated by Aid for Baja (1996).

Erik before surgery on bicycle, donated by Aid for Baja (1996).

Erik’s mother, Angela Viterbo, believed she had dropped a chair on the young boy’s fragile foot, causing his serious injury. Erik needed surgery, but because the family lived in rural Oaxaca at the time, no local medical services were available. When ABC approached his family in 1996, Erik’s father didn’t want Erik to have surgery, as he wanted his son to stay in Baja and work in the fields with him. Erik’s mother, on the other hand, insisted Erik attend school and pursue education outside of fieldwork.

Both Erik’s parents speak Mixteco and limited Spanish, and they knew little of Los Angeles. In spite of Angela’s hopes for her son’s future, it took ABC almost two years to convince her that Shriner’s Hospital in Los Angeles would neither sell her son nor his body parts if they traveled there for treatment. Luckily, after long conversations and steady reassurance, Erik’s parents agreed to allow Erik to travel to Shriner’s and get surgery on his foot in 1998.

In April 1998, when Erik was almost 12 years old, ABC representative Gabriel Soria in Agua de las Flores picked up Erik and his mother to drive them to his surgery in Los Angeles. Families in need who traveled to Shriner’s for treatment were often invited to stop and stay at ABC secretary Anne Stadler’s home in Escondido, before and after surgery. Erik and his mother were one of those families.

When Erik and his mother arrived at Anne’s home in Escondido, Anne showed Erik around her house and explained to him how to use the toilet, as his family didn’t have one in their home in Baja California. As they exited the bathroom, Anne reminded Erik to turn off the lights, and he looked up at her and said, “How?” Erik had never before experienced electric lights, nor had he experienced running water.

On April 28, 1998, Erik’s right foot was operated on at Shriner’s Hospital in Los Angeles, where he was interned for a week. His mother accompanied him for all services. After surgery, the two returned to San Quintin in Baja California for six weeks of recuperation, along with ABC representatives.


Erik in Escondido after surgery with ABC representatives, preparing to go home to San Quintin Valley.

At intervals of 3 to 6 months, Shriner’s Hospital scheduled checkups for Erik in Los Angeles and routinely gave him newly-formed braces for his foot/leg. ABC facilitated his transportation, border crossing documents, food, and other needs. Once he reached the age of 18, Shriner’s service ended, and Erik found someone in his community to provide his future foot braces.

Erik and mom, Angela, with neighbors in front of 1-bedroom temporary housing (2004). Nine family members were housed for six weeks in this home.

Erik finished high school with further assistance from ABC. He continued his studies to become a bilingual teacher, and he was placed in charge of a class of multilingual 3rd-graders in the San Quintin educational system. Today, Erik is a graduate of the Normal School where teachers become certified, and he has finished his post-graduate work in Teacher Education.

Posted in Work by ABC Tagged with: , , ,

ABC Donates Blankets to Baja Families – Christmas 2014

ABC Donates Blankets in Baja California

ABC Donates Blankets in Baja California

Over the holidays, Aid for Baja California (ABC) donated blankets to families in need at the “Las Posadas” Christmas celebration in San Quintin, Baja California. Las Posadas is a traditional re-enactment of Mary and Joseph’s trip to Bethlehem, where they found no room at the inn and had to take shelter in a stable for the birth of Christ their son. In addition to blankets, ABC also donated candy for the children to enjoy.

Thank you to our wonderful supporters who made this donation possible.

Below are photos of children and families receiving blankets and candy at Las Posadas.

Baja California Children Receive Blankets

Baja California Children Receive Blankets

Aid for Baja California Donates Blankets

Aid for Baja California Donates Blankets

Aid for Baja California at Las Posadas in San Quintin

Aid for Baja California at Las Posadas in San Quintin

Aid for Baja California Donates Candy

Aid for Baja California Donates Candy

Posted in Work by ABC

Intro to Don Fernando – ABC Board Vice President

ABC Board Vice PresidentABC Board Role

Vice President of the Executive Board (former President)


Retired Avionics Engineer

About Don Fernando

Don Fernando Almanza Jr., the ABC Board Vice President, helps to oversee the organization and guide its future. Fernando has been directly involved with Aid for Baja California since 1986, and was President of the Board for 25 years.

Fernando was born in Texas, but lived his infancy in Mexico, until his family moved to California in 1945. He graduated from San Jacinto High School in San Jacinto, CA and received his engineering education at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

As an avionics engineer, Fernando worked for Northrop Corporation for 34 years until his retirement. He and his wife Victoria live in Pico Rivera, CA near his many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Posted in Introduction to the Board Tagged with: , , ,

Why Education Matters to Orphans in Baja

Orphans in BajaEducation is the best way to break the vicious cycle of poverty. High school and university degrees impact not only the graduate’s immediate family and extended family, but also their neighborhood and workplace. Graduates are sought after to help make important decisions and to hold leadership positions in their churches, schools and communities.

For more than 20 years, ABC has offered financial assistance to students who apply and qualify for our scholarship program. ABC has helped numerous high school students realize their goals of graduating with a vocational skill and/or continuing their studies at a university.

ABC funds have also been used to support elementary and secondary school needs like basic supplies, blackboards, desks, computers and printers, etc. Additionally, orphanages have received our financial assistance to buy clothing and food. We have also been able to donate recreational equipment, uniforms, school supplies, and more.

We will post heartwarming and inspirational student success stories on the ABC website in the near future.

Won’t you please join us in supporting students who want to study?

Your regular, monthly donation to ABC will change lives!

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,

Contribute to ABC This Holiday Season

Contribute to ABC

Dear Friends of Aid for Baja California,

We are approaching Christmas and the end of the fiscal year, and for many people and companies, this is also a time to make a charitable contribution.

That’s why we would like to propose the option of sending your tax-deductible contribution to ABC. Any amount will help keep us moving forward.

If you can find a way to contribute to ABC this Giving Season, we will be most grateful.

To donate, click here or select the PayPal button below.

God bless and keep you,

The ABC Team

Contribute to ABC

Contribute to ABC

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,

Intro to Anne K. Stadler – ABC Board Secretary

ABC Board SecretaryABC Board Role

Secretary of the Executive Board


Retired Educational Administrator & ESL Instructor (Palomar College)

Message From Anne

It is a distinct honor to serve on the ABC Board of Directors. I look forward to continuing that service as Secretary with a special emphasis on the Scholarship Program and our collaboration with children who will benefit from attention at the Shriners Hospital in Los Angeles.

Since 1974, it has been my privilege to facilitate applications, transportation, and communication for children who qualify for attention at Shriners Hospitals for Burned & Crippled Children. My volunteer activities include translating for medical missions, volunteering with construction crews, and coordinating activities for ABC.

I was born and raised on Lake Superior, and my life changed upon graduation from the College of St. Scholastica, where I earned my B.A. in Music. After working for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia, from 1966 to ‘68, a new world of service opened up to me, and I began working with migrant farmer families in Arizona and California. In 2009, I retired as an educational administrator and ESL instructor at Palomar College.

Please help us give a better future to the children of Aid for Baja California, and think of them during this giving season. Even a small donation makes a big difference.

Anne Stadler
ABC Board Secretary

Posted in Introduction to the Board Tagged with: , , ,

Intro to James Schaible – ABC Board President

ABC Board President

ABC Board Role

Executive Board President Since 2013


California Licensed Architect

Message From James

Welcome all. Thank you for following Aid for Baja California. We’re officially online and ready to get social for the good of the children of Baja California!

I’m James Schaible, President of the Board for ABC. I am an architect by profession, and I have been a volunteer for a variety of projects in Baja since 1991. I am also married with five wonderful children and four beautiful grandchildren.

In the months and years to come, I foresee great progress for ABC, including the growth of our donor base and the expansion of our new online presence. We will continue to focus on developing the Organization’s long-term budget by asking for renewed commitments from existing donors and by encouraging new supporters to set up monthly donations.

If you are able to give, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I know the children of Baja need our support, and I would love to hear from you. I look forward to our future and hope to see you there!

Thank you and God bless!

James Schaible
ABC Board President

Posted in Introduction to the Board Tagged with: , , ,

Introduction to the ABC Board

When you donate to Aid for Baja California (ABC), our dedicated Executive Board will direct your contribution to where it’s needed most.

Who Makes Up the ABC Board?

To demonstrate our reliability, we’re kicking off the fall season with a blog series called “Introduction to the Board”. Periodically, we will post short profiles on featured board members. If you want to learn more about us, you can explore the Aid for Baja California website or shoot us an email at with any questions.

Watch for the first Featured Board Member post tomorrow!

Posted in About ABC, Introduction to the Board Tagged with: , , ,


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