By Elizabeth Alex
From the distance, Manchay, Peru appears dirty and desolate.
Small and sometimes rickety houses, cheerfully painted in lilac and blue sit at the base of what appear to be mountains made of dust and rock. Manchay is covered in haze.
But what Manchay lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for in smiles.
Like the big grin on 5-year-old Carlos’ face.
It is said that laughter is the language of children and play is the way they communicate and grow.
If all that is true, Carlos will grow up to be a great success.
Whether he is playing with his dog, Baby, or kicking an old soccer ball in front of the family home, Carlos lives with gusto.
He doesn’t walk. He jumps. Or hops around the house and the neighborhood.
With the innocent outlook of a 5-year-old, the world is a happy place and full of opportunity.
His dad Max is a hard worker, but jobs are scarce.
He brings in as much as he can as a handyman and looks for work as a bus driver.
Carlos’ mom, Lucretia, has a 10th grade education, but hopes to save for a sewing machine to help the family earn some extra cash.
His 9-year-old sister Daniela has a sponsor who writes regularly. Daniela loves to show off the brightly colored stickers she gets with her letters, even though she says the stickers are too precious to ever actually use.
Carlos used to be sponsored but his sponsor had to drop out of the program.
The family still receives his monthly benefits from CFCA for food and education, but little Carlos would like to get some letters, too.
Plus, he could really use some fun stickers.
Unlike his sister, he would probably use them.
And as he grows, Carlos will need something more from a sponsor; an encouraging voice, a friend from afar. Someone to keep reminding him that life is indeed full of opportunity.
(Editor’s note: After this blog post was published, Carlos was sponsored.)