These tiny little fella’s look like boys anywhere else. They play, they joke, they laugh, they fight. The only difference is their stories. Stories of devastation, lost homes, lost lives, lost parents. Sometimes even losing them violently in front of their eyes. Eyes who are way too young to watch what they have watched. All growing up without a mother or a father. Here they are, on their knees, sharing their secrets and worries. And still, they play, they joke, they laugh, they fight. Like any other boy. If there is one thing I am learning from them, it is resilience. The courage to keep moving, to keep going forward. To not let anything make you give up. They are such clever, brilliant and wise human beings. I have faith that they will get wherever they want to go. Because they don’t give up. Giving up simply does not exist here. Let my little brothers inspire you on this Thursday night. To chase your dreams and go where you want to go. And don’t tell me something is stopping you. It’s only on your mind. Dream big and move forward. You simply owe it to them to do so.
“My name is Juan Carlos, I am 12 years old. I go to school from 8AM till 2PM and then start working as a shoe polisher. I want to become an artist and need money to be able to go to college when I am older. It is my dream to become a painter. I don’t want to be in the picture alone, but you can take one together with my friend.I just polished his shoes. He is an amazing guitar-player and dreams of traveling to Europe to play in the Concert Halls there.”
“We are on our way to Houston, Texas. We will have to spend 16 days on busses to get there, but that’s fine because we have a lot of fun together, especially if we talk about or with la chica’s on the bus! Do you have a boyfriend? You are too tall for us! We will try to get jobs in the United States to have a better future. It’s our first time so we are really excited!”
“My name is Mariano. I am 60 years old and from San Pedro, Lago del Atitlan. I have 9 brothers and sisters, all between the age of 54 and 65. I am a fisherman and work with a small boat and only a net. On good days in the dry season I catch 20 kilos of fish, but from May on its only about 1 or 1,5 kilo a day. On good days I sell it, because I don’t have a wife and kids and can’t eat it all. But that’s okay. It was nice to teach you Spanish. But now you have to go, I have to take a bath here in the lake. Adios!”
“My name is Ashwani. I am disabled: only physically. I am spastic which makes it hard to talk and people think I am stupid. I am not. I sell apples on the street, everyday, and with that money I can take care of myself and my family. My parents are too old to work. I want to make them happy. My brother is also abnormal, but way worse than I am. It’s in his brain too and he always feels sick. So I am taking care of them all. I’d be pleased if you could buy my apples. And even if you don’t, I will greet you happily every time you pass me by.”
“The only difference between your Catholic and our Muslim belief is that Allah is our messenger instead of a God. We are teachers too, in English and Computer Science. We have an arranged marriage like almost everyone else in India. It is often very difficult, but we think love marriages and love relationships are difficult too, right? Can we take a selfie? We can not post pictures of ourselves on Facebook because we are not allowed to expose ourselves. You can post it but please don’t tag us. We will keep our picture as a sweet memory of our talk.”