By: Yrahisa Mateo, as told to her by Scarle   |   Posted: February 01, 2023

When I was a baby, I lost the use of my arms and legs. With the support of my sponsors and the tutors at my Compassion center, I’m moving steadily toward my future with a lot of faith and hope!

Why I See My Disability as a Blessing

When I was a baby, I lost the use of my arms and legs. With the support of my sponsors and the tutors at my Compassion center, I’m moving steadily toward my future with a lot of faith and hope!

Written by Yrahisa Mateo, as told to her by Scarle
Photography by Yrahisa Mateo
Scarle reads a letter from her sponsor

I was only a baby when I lost the ability to walk and move my arms.

My grandmother, Chori, tells me that when I was only 3 or 4 months old, doctors misdiagnosed me with meningitis.

“Oh, my child, when they put you on the medicine, your legs and arms became cold, and I thought it was normal. But when you came home, we realized that you would not be able to hold your little body and that nothing would ever be the same again,” she says.

Very painful therapies, specialists, analyses, tests and medical studies have accompanied me all my life in search of a diagnosis. The few resources my family could get were used to discover the cause of my condition and look for a solution.

Unfortunately, the cause has never been found. Still today, I cannot walk or move my arms properly.

A Place of Blessing in My Life

Grandma Chori says that all the doctors recommended that I enroll in school and try to live as normal a life as possible. Eventually, she registered me in Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program. From there, everything changed.

Margarita, the center’s director, has never looked at me as a different child, although I am the only one with this condition. I once overheard her saying:

“I haven’t thought about the bad that could happen to her here [at the center] but about the love and affection we can give her. I firmly believe that this family is immersed in difficult situations, so they should be supported. We are called to give love and blessings, so let’s be that for Scarle and her family.”

I was about 5 or 6 years old when I came to the center. Since then, it’s always been a place of blessing in my life. When I think back now, I see my life in two parts: before and after I came to the center.

Scarle playing on the playground at the center

Why The Center Is So Much Fun

At the center, I learned what it’s like to have friends and be a friend. I love my friends very much, especially when we play together on the playground and do activities in the classrooms. I enjoy listening to them and helping them solve their problems.

The center is the only place where my grandmother lets me go alone without getting worried. She always says to me: “I have full confidence that they take care of you and also instill principles and values in you there.”

That’s very important to her.

And she is absolutely right. At the center, my tutors and friends help me get around when I need to go places. They help me to participate in all the activities and trips. This is precisely why I feel fulfilled and happy: I can do everything that others do.

I don’t remember ever being bullied or mistreated at the center. If anyone wanted to make fun of my condition, the director herself, Margarita, would give us all a talking-to about how we should love and respect each other.

Everyone there has been very kind to my grandma and me. Not only have they helped me with my medical condition, given us food, school gift cards and Christmas gift cards, but they are also helping my grandmother with her dream of building a special room where I can move around more comfortably.

And as if that weren't enough, through the center, God has given me beautiful sponsors who love me and inspire me. They motivate and make me feel loved and special when they tell me that they pray for me and believe in me.

My life is better because of the center. If I were not part of the center, I would not be as fulfilled, happy and secure as I am today. I have learned to not only be strong right now but to dream about the future also.

The Best Birthday Surprise

Something wonderful and unexpected happened on my birthday.

My grandmother received a phone call from the center asking us to hurry there. When Grandma Chori wheeled me into the room, I couldn’t believe it …

The center had organized a birthday party for me with all the staff and my friends.

We played games and ate fruit. There were TWO birthday cakes, and my friends and tutors all said beautiful words to me. In the end, the pastor wanted to pray for me and asked me to share my deepest desire. This was what I told her:

“I receive from above the good and the bad because I know that everything works for good for those who love the Lord. If it is his will, I wish I could have a more comfortable wheelchair.”

She started praying, but when she said amen and I opened my eyes, there it was: A brand-new electric wheelchair with a big red ribbon on it.

I couldn’t help it — I cried. Margarita told me I will have to attend driving lessons to keep me safe! Of course, I agreed.

I was amazed. It was the best birthday ever.

Scarle sees her new wheelchair

Living With No Limits

I know what my reality is, and I know it may not look very easy from the outside.

I have no idea what it feels like to run or walk. I don’t know what it’s like to go to the bathroom by myself, get out of bed to drink a glass of milk in the morning or change clothing on my own.

But I don’t feel limited and live a very happy and blessed life. I’ve gotten to enjoy all the experiences most teenagers have, from outings with the center to going out with friends and more. I don’t see the difference between them and me.

My favorite hobby is drawing. I love going to school because I learn more and more every time I go. My dream is to someday become a psychologist so I can help people solve their problems — especially people who have a disability like me, so they learn that there are no limits.

I know my disability does not limit me, and the wheelchair does not enslave me.

Many see my disability as a problem, but I see it as a great blessing. I’m moving steadily toward my future with a lot of faith and hope because I am not walking like everyone else — I am rolling in my wheelchair!

I am going faster toward my dreams now. I’m very blessed!

Empower a Youth Like Scarle

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