Rafico (Raphael Yamuca)
Rafico was a 7-year-old Otavalo Indian boy from the town of Otavalo, Ecuador, South America. One night, his parents, in a drunken stupor, tied him to the railroad tracks muttering that they had eight other children and didn’t need so many. Rafico managed to wiggle free from the ropes except for one leg, which he lost above the knee when the train came. Some neighbors saved his life. The wife of Ecuador’s President, Corina de Velasco Ibarra, became aware of his case and contacted Henry Davis, founder of the Happiness Foundation, seeing if it would be possible to take Rafico to the U.S. for treatment. Arrangements were made, and God led them to Dr. Westbrook in Visalia, California, who performed several successful surgeries. Eventually, the wonderful day came for Rafico to be fitted for his artificial leg. Somehow, no one knows how, the Associated Press picked up on these events, and his story was on the front page of many U.S. newspapers in cities such as New York, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, and Los Angeles.
The Miami Herald, which is widely read in South America, is one of the newspapers that placed the article on its front page. The paper made its way to Brazil, up the Amazon River, and into the hands of a 65-year-old man from Oklahoma who worked for Texaco and was helping build an oil pipeline through the Amazon jungle. The Lord touched his heart as he read the story about Rafico, that he wrote home to his wife and told her about it.
Six months later, Texaco transferred this man and his crew over to Ecuador (as they had discovered oil there), with the task of building a pipeline up over the Andes Mountains and out to the Ecuadorian coast for exportation. That pipeline “just happened” to cross the Happiness Foundation upper property line. They asked if they could use the Foundation’s access road to get up to the top of the property to work on the pipeline. Day after day, the trucks and equipment passed by. One day, the man from Oklahoma asked Henry if this was an orphanage. When Henry answered “yes,” the man began telling Henry about an article he read in the Miami Herald about a boy named Rafico. Henry just smiled and asked, “Would you like to meet that boy?” The man couldn’t believe it, and began weeping as he met Rafico.
This man was so blessed that he and his crew used their large earth moving equipment to transform the steep slope and ravines of the campus by grading a soccer field (World Championship size), a 50,000-gallon water reservoir, a site for a church, and a basketball court…all at no charge.
Because of the need for more trips to the U.S. as Rafico’s leg grew, John and Jerry Rohrig (Henry’s aunt and uncle) cared for him for the time necessary for his growth to be completed. He graduated from high school in the U.S. and returned to Ecuador speaking English. He then worked with a single missionary lady, accompanying medical groups to poor areas of Ecuador and translating for them. On one of these trips, an optometrist took an interest in him and sent him to a university. Today, Raphael is an optometrist in Quito. He is married and has a family.