I met Jose* when he was 6 months old and have not seen him in 10 years –until this week. A young boy with cerebral palsy, Jose was one of Manos Unidas first students.
Manos Unidas offers full scholarships to children living in extreme poverty. We met his mother in 2010, knocking on our door, pleading for help. She carried Jose’s brother, Jorge* on her back. He was 10 years old, also with Cerebral Palsy.
Jose’s mother had two children with cerebral palsy, both due to fetal trauma prior to birth and in the birthing process. She is a courageous woman who has endured countless hardship and continues to live for her children.
Mercedes and I formed a very intimate relationship with Jose’s mom for several years, supporting her with employment, through domestic violence trauma and ultimately the health and wellbeing of her children. Then she disappeared.
It was a surprise to see her walk up to the school this week, carrying Jose in a traditional woven blanket on her back. She lives near the school and asked if there was space for her son. Her eldest is still alive but too fragile to transport.
Jose has began is school experience after 10 years of sitting at home, transferred from one home to the next, witnessing terrible violence, abandonment and malnutrion.
We embrace Jose with all of our love and only hope he continues to attend school.
Jose is part of the significant disabilities program at Camino Nuevo, a part of a global rehabilitation program supported by the Alma Children’s Education Foundation. The program partners with the University of Washington Global Rehabilitative Student group (GROW) and University of Wisconsin, Madison, Doctor of Physical Therapy program for immersive cultural and professional student volunteer programs.
*The names have been changed to protect the privacy of the family