I have a super cool 8 year old host brother by the name: Ignacio. Ignacio has big, bright, blue eyes and really long eyelashes. No lie, the longest lashes I have ever seen in my life. But Ignacio is a little special, because he isn’t your average 8 year old boy.
He can’t talk.
He can’t walk.
He can’t eat.
He can’t do “normal things”.
He can grunt.
He can cry.
He goes to school twice a week. Two hours a day.
He goes to APAE, a center for kids with disabilities.
But other than that… he doesn’t do much. He lays on the couch at home the rest of the time just staring at the television screen. And sometimes his head slides down and he can’t do anything about it until someone notices it and helps place his head back in an upward position.
This is the initial stretch zone that was presented to me on my first day here in Garopaba. Because how would I interact with him? How would I bond with him? But see, the thing is that you don’t need to have full on conversations with someone to connect. You don’t need to go out and see the city together to grow. You don’t need much to appreciate and to grow to love someone. All you need is quality time together. For me that meant holding his hand and talking to him in my very chopped Portugues words. It meant wiping off his drool from the side of his face. It meant saying “Oi Ignacio tudo bem?” every time I walk into the house or just saying tchau. It means letting him know that he is present and that I think about him. And truth is, adjusting to life with him has been one of the easiest things for me because just like me, he is human and he matters.
So ask me about Ignacio! I would love to talk about the moments I have shared with him thus far. From trying to keep Benjamim quiet and Ignacio purposely grunting in attempts to wake him up to having his wondering eyes looking to his left to catch my every movement. I must admit, having him as a host brother has been the greatest gift and I’m super excited to continue to learn about him and to wake up to the big smile on his face every morning.
So remember: Everyone deserves love so be aware of those around you. And think to yourself, who could use a little extra love? And how can I give it?