One of the first children I met at Amigos de Jesus was Pancho*. “Unique” does not begin to describe Pancho. He came to us from a government home for children with special needs like his. It was not the most ideal place for him to spend his formative years. In a little over a year at Amigos, though, Pancho has blossomed into an affectionate, funny, enthusiastic, and determined young man.
Pancho has a very distinctive way of communicating. He can communicate somewhat verbally, but his speech is not clear or fluid. When he cannot get his point across with words, he will use hand signs to try and help people understand. This is how he got me to understand that he wanted to play baseball with me one day during recreo (recess) when I had just arrived at Amigos and didn’t even know his name. Sometimes he will become frustrated and walk away, but eventually he’ll try to get your attention again by yelling “Tio, Tio!” or “Hey, you!”. Names aren’t easy for him to learn, but, again, he uses whatever means are at his disposal to communicate effectively.
Pancho has no trouble, however, communicating his frequent enthusiasm. He practically bounces from one end of the hogar to the other when he is excited about something. Whether it’s a new toy car or the prospect of going to Posas Verdes to celebrate his birthday, Pancho’s enthusiasm is tangible. He loves to act out milking the cows—he’s so proud of how he helps Sergio and Wilmer, staff members in Agro. Once during the Torneo Navideno, he scored a goal; his joy was indescribable, until he realized that he’d accidentally scored for the other team.
Pancho can also be characterized by his affectionate nature. He is very attached to Madrina Ruth and Padrino Jorge and can often be seen walking alongside one of them on some errand or other. Sometimes he is lying on a bench and signals for you to come over and put your arm around him. Other times he will come from nowhere and hug you around the waist.
Determination also defines Pancho. He can spend hours throwing a stick or a stone at a mango tree to get the tree to give up its fruit. He will wait outside the classroom for his friend Jose if Jose is still finishing his work. Despite some limitations, Pancho is very determined to make himself understood, and he does not give up easily. His resiliency, determination, affection, and boundless enthusiasm make Pancho truly unique to Amigos de Jesus.
~ Genevieve Volpe, 2015-16 volunteer
*name changed to protect privacy