My name is Luis Diego, I am 21 years old and I live in Concepción de Alajuelita with my mother and my younger sister.
I was born with only one lung and the doctors didn’t have much hope that I would survive. I grew up not being able to play soccer or ride my bike. From the window of my house, I watched the other children playing in the street and I always wondered why I couldn’t play with them. My mother told me: “Be strong and you will see that one day you will be able to do it.”
Because of my father’s abandonment, we had many needs and because of my health, I could not do much to help my mother and sister. At school I was called a “dwarf” and I was bullied a lot. That’s how I grew up, afraid of everyone and everything. I went to high school and everything got worse. One day the students hung me on a wall and made fun of me. I came home crying and I told my mother I wasn’t going back to school.
I discovered FundaVida and it became my second home. For once in my life I was accepted, respected and heard. Even though I found true friends at FundaVida, there was still a great fear in me. I preferred to keep quiet and make myself small. The abuse I had experienced was still very present in my life. I went on a service trip with FundaVida and that changed everything.
We went to Vara Blanca (a very poor place in Costa Rica). On the second day of the trip we went for a walk in the mountains and we came across a big gulley in the trail. We had two options, to jump across or to take the long way around. Happily, one by one, everyone started jumping across, but I was shaking with fear. All the bad memories came back and I felt helpless. I heard my friends encouraging me, “Come on Luis Diego. You can do it. Jump! You can do it.” Some of them, including the teachers, came back and jumped again and again in order to encourage me. But I was paralyzed. Finally, I got up the courage to jump. I made it across! It was very significant, because after that jump everything changed.
Now I am 5 ft 4 inches tall, weigh 125 lbs and have my own business called “Leiton Cellulars.” Who would have thought! In any case, I am sure that my life would not have been the same without FundaVida.