Since 2015 I have lived with my son Jonathan in Juigalpa, where I contribute to the work of the Fundación Ruach. When we left the Netherlands Daniella, my daughter, stayed behind to finish her University education. Two years ago she moved to Guayaquil in Ecuador, so we live relatively near each other again.
Daniella was born in Nicaragua and lived in Latin America for the first 14 years of her life. After that we moved to the Netherlands where at first she struggled to cope with the Dutch secondary school system due to lack of support. Gradually she found her way in the Netherlands, but she feels more Latina than Dutch. She was raised bilingual, so she speaks Spanish and Dutch fluently.
Daniella is very involved with our lives and work in Juigalpa. She also volunteers for Fundación Ruach. She manages our Spanish website (www.fundacionruach.org). Her task is to publish news and photos about the foundation, especially on the Facebook page. But she also designs posters for certain events, and helps with crowd funding.
Daniella writes: “When asked why I am committed to this volunteer work, it is easy for me to answer. Firstly, this foundation was set up to help a vulnerable group in society. They are people who often cannot live a dignified life without our help. They are people who like everyone else have a right to actively participate in our society, and have a lot to offer. Sometimes we are so preoccupied with our own lives that we forget to help other people. People with disabilities remind us that life is not only about us, but also about helping others, about having compassion and focussing on the similarities instead of the differences.
This volunteer work also ensures that I get satisfaction in my life. I am committed to a good cause and thus contribute to a better world. It is clear to me that by helping other people, I myself will be a happier person. Of course I also help Ruach because my mother and my brother live in Ruach’s community home. My volunteer work makes me feel even closer to them. And Juigalpa is in my blood. I was born there”.
Jonathan and Daniella
How is the relationship between Jonathan and Daniella?’ Astrid says: ‘It is an art for a parent in every upbringing to find a good balance in giving attention to everyone, if you have several children, but especially if you have a child with special needs who can easily demand more attention. My advantage was that I was alert to this challenge ’.
I also make sure that we visit Daniella every year to keep the bond between brother and sister alive. Jonathan needs direct contact, does not relate via a telephone.
Two years ago, Daniella wrote a letter to Jonathan. She agreed that I could copy some parts of it. So this is Daniella writing:
“You are my brother. A special soul. You do things your way. Be who you are, not another person, simply and authentically yourself.
You teach me that being different is magic. Forget ‘the norms’, forget about the parameters that society imposes, leave my comfort zone, because with that I grow as a person at the speed of light.
You teach me not to care what others say about me. If you want to do something, you do it, period, including your crazy things, which are not so crazy for you. If you want to hug the man sitting in the park, you hug him; if you want to shake hands with the child who is passing by, you do it. If you want to greet the woman who waits for her ice cream, as you are, you greet her. Do not limit yourself to first think and then act, because you act through spontaneous love. Regardless of gender, age, economic status, sexual preference, or skin colour. None of that is relevant in your world … and that is as it should be.”
She ends the letter with:
“And most importantly: you have taught me to be a sensitive, compassionate and empathetic person. Only in this way can we enter your world and live it, that world that we should all experience in life, to assimilate it and be able to practice it in the outside world that desperately needs just that: sensitivity, compassion and empathy. Thanks for everything, I love you”.