Amazing Kids! Magazine

I May Not See the World, But the World Will See Me

By Daniela Santos, age 12, California

 

It was a sunny Monday school day in a small house in El Salvador, and Federico was waking up. Federico’s house was not the biggest. He shared a room with his parents and his sister, but he was fine with that. Federico had a small kitchen, and the only walls that were not just solid rock were his room walls. Federico enjoyed sitting under the lemon tree his parents grew. Federico walked out of the room, trying to not wake up his sister since it was 4:00 a.m. and he needed to get ready for school. It was going to be his first day of school. However, Federico didn’t go to any normal school; he attended a school for blind children. Federico had sadly begun to lose his vision at a young age.

Federico was born a few weeks prior to when he was supposed to and was placed in an incubator, but he didn’t have the proper care he needed. Children in an incubator always have to get something so that their eyes don’t get ruined, but in Federico’s case, he didn’t get that care. When he finally left the hospital with his parents, they thought he was fine until he turned one. At age one, Federico’s parents noticed that his left eye had something in it that the right eye didn’t, so they took him to the hospital. The hospital concluded that he didn’t have the proper care in the incubator, therefore causing his eye to get very hurt. Federico’s parents were devastated, but they took great care of Federico, and six years later, Federico’s sister was born: Esther. Federico and Esther became very good friends. While they did have the occasional argument, they worked it out. As time went by, you could really tell something was going on with Federico’s eye. While his right eye was as brown as the bark of a tree, his left eye was a mixture of blue and white as a cloud.

Now Federico is 12 and uses a cane, but that hasn’t stopped him from being his usual happy self. Federico still does chores around his house, helping his mom, since his dad is usually out. Federico also spends his free time listening to music. He walked into the kitchen to find his mom.

“Good morning,” Federico said to his mom.

“Good morning, are you excited for school?” asked his mom.

Federico thought of his answer for a few seconds. I don’t want people to look at me weird; I don’t want people to treat me differently because I use a cane. I’m going to miss my old friends, he thought. But at the same time, he thought that he would get an opportunity to learn something new.

“Excited!” he said when he really wasn’t.

“Great, I made your favorite,” said his mother as she handed him a plate of pupusas.

Federico thanked his mother and began to eat. As he ate, he realized that it was 4:30 a.m. and that his bus would stop at his house at 5:00 a.m. So, he finished his food as quickly as a lion catches prey.

He finished getting ready, and just as he grabbed his new, shiny silver cane, he heard the bus honk outside, and he was off. Federico was riding the bus and trying to feel what every item of clothes he was wearing looked like. He felt his shoes, as smooth as a brand-new phone screen. His mother had just cleaned the shoes this morning so that they would look good. He felt his shirt; he felt the collar was a little off, so he fixed it.  He felt big, round buttons going down the center of his white shirt and one lonely pocket sitting on the upper left side of the shirt. He was wearing his dark blue pants, as dark as the blue pen that he was holding. While Federico was not fully blind, it was very tough for him to see anything. He wore brown glasses, but they didn’t help him; he knew that seeing again was probably going to be impossible. Federico felt something brush past his shoulder; he looked to his right and could see the silhouette of a person. Another student.

“Hello?” he asked.

“Um…hi,” answered a quiet, shy voice.

“I know this sounds dumb, but I can’t see you,” answered Federico.

“I can’t see you either; we are attending a school for blind people,” answered the voice holding in laughter.

“Oh, yeah, I forgot about that,” replied Federico, feeling a little embarrassed.

“What’s your name?”

“I’m Federico. What about you?”

“My name is Tony.”

“Have you attended this school before, Tony?”

“No, it’s my first day.”

“That’s funny. It’s my first day, too.”

The boys talked until they got out of the bus. Once they did, Federico got a better look at Tony. Federico could see that Tony had dark brown hair similar to his own, just in a different style. Tony was also wearing similar clothes to Federico. They began to walk into the school, and Federico felt someone tap him on the shoulder. He could tell that Tony felt it, too, because they both rapidly turned around.

“Hello! I am Veronica. I will show you around and take you from class to class for your first few months,” said the voice they would now know as Veronica.

“Okay,” answered both boys timidly.

“This is your first day, right?” asked Veronica.

“Yes,” answered both voices in unison.

“Great! That means you both will have the same classes.”

Federico and Tony were joyful and relieved that they wouldn’t have to try that hard to make friends. They both had a pleasant day. They were beginning to learn Braille and had a lot of fun. Federico went back home and told his mom everything.

“I made a new friend!” exclaimed Federico.

“Really? Good for you!” answered his mother.

“His name is Tony.”

“Is he also, um…You know…does he have trouble with his eyesight?”

“Yes, he has my same problem.”

“It is great you met someone you can connect with. Well, I have to go pick up your sister. Take care of the house for me.”

Then his mother left. Federico ran into the room and sat on his bed. As he sat there, he realized that his life was tough. He realized that he couldn’t do many things other people could, but he also realized that he shouldn’t worry. Federico could actually do many things people couldn’t do even with their eyesight. He taught himself to swim at the young age of eight. He would submerge himself in his bath and try to hold his breath until finally he tried in a river, and he could swim. Federico could somersault even though he couldn’t see his surroundings.

Federico decided to take all of these things with him and chose to join a dance and singing group. About a year or two later, Federico was 14 and was training for the Paralympics, which are Olympics for handicapped people. Federico and Tony both trained very hard, but only Federico was going to attend the competition as a competitor. Tony couldn’t afford to go watch his friend since the competition was in Brazil and he was a very poor student. Federico managed to get an all-expenses-paid trip since he got into the competition.

The competition wouldn’t be until three years from now, so Federico had time to train. Federico’s parents would make the sacrifice of taking him to a pool a few hours away, just so he could train. As he was getting in the car, he realized something that he had completely forgotten about. The next day, he was graduating from his school and was allowed to go back to normal school. What worried Federico so much was that he was chosen to write a speech. Federico asked his parents if he could go to Tony’s house, and they said yes. So Federico went to Tony’s house to talk about this.

“Hey, Tony!” said Federico as Tony opened the door to his house.

“Hey!” replied Tony.

“I need help writing my speech.”

“Okay, I’ll help you. Do you think something has helped you overcome these hard times?”

“Yes, my parents have helped me a lot, and so have my teachers.”

“Okay, how about running, singing, and dancing? You can write about that.”

“You’re right.”

Soon after that, Federico had a great speech about how hard it had been but how singing, dancing, parents, and teachers had helped him through the years. He made sure to include how he was so proud of his blind teacher for being able to teach so much. He wrote about training for the Olympics and how he hoped to become a lawyer or a person who works at the government. Federico finished his work, thanked Tony for the help, and went back home to keep training for the Paralympics. After an hour or two, Federico chose to go to sleep so that he would have plenty of rest for the next day.

The next day, Federico received some unexpected news. His teachers told him that he had done such a good job on his grades that he would be sent to a program for gifted children in the summer of 2019. Federico felt honored, but he was very worried at the same time. That year was the year of the Paralympics that he had so hoped to go to. Federico asked his teacher for a minute to think about it; he had worked so hard both training and studying that now he had to choose between them. Federico didn’t know if this was the right choice, but he chose it anyways.

“Thank you for the offer, but I’m sorry; I can’t do it,” he said.

“What? Why?” asked his teacher with a very shocked expression.

“That is the year of the Paralympics, and I have trained very hard for that.”

“I understand. If you change your mind, let me know.”

“Okay.”

With that, Federico was gone, waiting until it was his moment to say his speech. Finally, after a few minutes of waiting, it was his turn to say his speech. Federico continued to say his speech. While he wasn’t the most outgoing person, he made his speech with no problem.

“After so long, we finally get to go to normal school again,” said Federico, walking alongside Tony.

“Yes, we will have so much fun,” replied Tony.

Both boys said their good-byes and went their separate ways. Tony was off to his house, and Federico practiced even more.

After a few years went by, it was 2019. With Federico being 18, he was ready for the Paralympics. Federico had to take a plane ride to Brazil. As he was sitting on his plane, he began to have flashbacks to when he was a kid. He remembered teaching himself to ride a bike and even remembered the time when he rode his bike down a hill. He didn’t give up; he picked himself up and tried again and again. He had flashbacks to the day he and his family went to the beach, the day he surprised his parents when he was capable of swimming. The fact that he had managed to teach himself to swim and was now going to compete by swimming shocked him. He realized that being blind didn’t stop him—he realized that it WOULDN’T stop him.

Once he was finally in the competition, he managed to score a first place. He made his country and his family very proud. Most importantly, he showed all his family that nothing was impossible. He went back home and was loved by many. He continued to have great accomplishments. He overcame the fact that he could not see the world, but now the world could see him.

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