I learn from the kids every day—new words in Spanish; tidbits of Bolivian culture; how to reprimand firmly yet gently; how to give really good hugs. Perhaps most strikingly, I learn about myself. For example, I have realized how much easier it is for me to do something when I get some sort of recognition for it, like a kid smiling back at me or taking hold of my hand.
The hardest part of caring for two-year-old Alvaro is that often I do not get any validation that I’ve helped him. Alvaro was born with an array of debilitating ailments that make life difficult. Often I do not know how to make his life more comfortable and enjoyable. Recently, however, Alvaro has been falling asleep in my lap as I read to him. This small accomplishment has flooded me with motivation to shower him with love. Knowing that I am able to alleviate his pain, even a little bit, is a huge confidence-booster that makes me crave to do more. I wish that I did not need this sort of reward, but perhaps it is the selfish part of care-giving that makes it human.
I can’t help but think that Alvaro is the miracle of Pedacito de Cielo. However, really he is no miracle, but rather the result of the dedicated love he receives from the “tías.” Tía Verónica gives Alvaro massages every day. Her connection with him is inspiring: his tense body relaxes under her touch and within the past couple of months his flexibility and muscle tone have increased substantially.