Once in a while, each of us has the opportunity to witness the absolute, pure joy of childhood through a little boy or girl. At Amigos de Jesus, nowhere is that joy more visible than in little Edwin*, one of our youngest boys at almost six years old. Edwin is blessed with a happy-go-lucky personality and an affectionate heart. Combined with a sly sense of humor and enthusiasm for many different activities, Edwin brings the free-wheeling wonderment of childhood to life.
Edwin is very affectionate and forms strong attachments with those he loves. Once when I was eating dinner in his dorm, Edwin pointed to his older brother Colin* and proudly informed me, “He’s my brother!” The two boys can frequently be found playing and laughing together. Edwin is also very attached to Padrino Antonio; Edwin’s excitement could not be contained the day he and Colin left to visit Padrino Antonio’s family for the weekend. During a recent karaoke night, Edwin and Padrino Antonio sang a beautiful duet about father and son. Edwin’s loving nature was obvious when he kindly brought me a stool so that I would have somewhere to put my plate as I was eating dinner outside one evening.
Edwin’s affection and thoughtfulness are tempered with a bit of craftiness typical of active little boys. Once when I was observing his kindergarten class at school, I noticed Edwin slyly trying to get away with some naughtiness when his teacher was distracted with helping other children. I think he and his friend Carla* were performing a bit for the visitor in the room—at one point they were taking turns sliding across the floor—and his antics did not go unnoticed. I had to hide my smile behind my hand on more than one occasion during that observation. Edwin’s crafty side can also be seen on the dance floor. Whether his partner is his housemate Martin* or his friend Julia*, Edwin is astounding with his innovative and clever dance moves—you should see him swivel his hips!
In addition to dancing, Edwin’s love for a variety of other activities is a testament to his free-spirited love of life. One of the jovenes, Melvin*, often plays soccer with Edwin. His little legs move so quickly to get to the ball, and his face is scrunched up in concentrationYou can hear Melvin yelling encouragement to Edwin as he drives for the goal—“Es Messi!”, he says, invoking the name of a very popular soccer player in Latin America. Edwin lights up at big things, like receiving a truck as a gift on Three Kings’ Day, as well as little things, like breaking open pods with a rock to free the marañon seeds (cashews), which are very good to eat. My favorite memory of Edwin is when he, Madrina Herminia, Martin, and I were caught in a rainstorm one night. We sprinted from the comedor (dining hall) to the dormitory, Madrina Herminia and I holding hands with Edwin and Martin, lifting them up as we hurdled over puddles and muddy ruts. Edwin and his friend were cackling with laughter and quite enjoying getting soaked to the skin, and for a moment I was a little kid again, splashing in the rain with them.
Childhood should be a time of joy, wonder, excitement, imagination, learning, and freedom from worry and fear. Whenever I see Edwin, I am reminded of the gift of childhood, and the gift that he is to us here at Amigos de Jesus.
~Genevieve Volpe, 2015-16 volunteer
*name changed to protect privacy