Unlikely Joy - My Family Travels
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I looked down, watching Victor walk. I had known him for four days, but he still amazed me with his ability to function with no arms, one real leg, and one prosthetic leg. We were walking through Chaclacayo, Peru on our way to the Hogar San Francisco de Asis from the nearby park. The Hogar is Victor's home, where he and fifty nine other children are given free medical care, education, food, and housing by Dr. Tony Lazzara, the most generous man I have ever seen. Victor chattered on in broken English as we walked.

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"I know," I replied. "We're almost home."

We walked on in silence for a few more moments. The helmet Victor wore in case he fell down slipped off his head to cover his face. He laughed hysterically as I fixed it. He looked up and saw a sign distracting him.

"No, Victor," I said, knowing that Dr. Lazzara doesn't like the children to eat sweets outside of the Hogar. Turning a deaf ear to my protests, Victor walked in the colorful store. He greeted the shopkeeper and began to talk to him in rapid Spanish. Not knowing enough of the language to keep up, I waited. Victor smiled at the shopkeeper and the man reached under the counter to take out a lollipop. I protested, with the little Spanish I know, saying that I didn't have any money and neither did Victor. The man waved off my protests and insisted that I take the lollipop. I took it, but looking down at Victor, told him that we were going to have to ask Dr. Lazzara about eating it.

"No, no," he protested, "For you, amiga." He smiled up at me and laughed.

I couldn't believe it. An eleven year old boy had just gotten free candy and he was giving it away. "For me?" I asked. Victor laughed again and walked out of the shop. I pocketed the candy, not wanted the fifty nine other children fighting over it when we got back to the Hogar.

Four days later, I sat in my room in the United States, a strawberry flavored lollipop in my hand. I smiled remembering Victor's kindness. The day after he had given me the lollipop, a different volunteer was walking him home from the park and Victor stopped again. This time, he got chocolate pieces and when he arrived at the Hogar, proceeded to hand them out to the other children. He didn't keep a single piece for himself.

All of the children were just as kind. The older kids helped the younger ones get ready in the morning. They pushed each other's wheelchairs and taught each other to ride a bicycle. It didn't matter if the children were burned past recognition, mentally retarded, or had a heart condition. They were all loving and cared for each other. Our group of nine teenagers and four adults were all amazed to find kindness in these children who had nothing.

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