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    Posted February 13, 2013 by
    Bonita Springs, Florida
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Impact Your World

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    Still Smiling: A Boy's Journey From Ashes to America

    "Born in poverty and raised in poverty, I was now only minutes from dying among the indistinguishable garbage"

    This is one of the many lines from my upcoming book "Still Smiling" which recounts my youth spent in war-torn in El Salvador in the 1990s. I particularly love sharing the story of how I learned to count, where as a 3-year-old I would count the soldiers marching through the main street in my village. I would count the soldier in part to look for my dad, which was now entering his 9th year in the service.

    When I was 11-years-old, which scavenging in the local garbage dump, an earthquake nearly ended my life...In fact, January 13, 2001 was the day I died. Trapped in the burning garbage dump, I lived through 40 minutes of hell before a gentleman risked his life to save mine.

    The whole country was destroyed as a result of the earthquake, including all the hospital in the area. When I arrived in Sonsonate, about 4 hours after the earthquake, my body was still in shock. I could see the bones broken in my legs, and my lungs at moments thought about quitting on me, I am glad they didn't.

    The doctor's decided that helping me would be a dead cause, giving that they are trained to treat people that will live. I had minutes (maybe hours) to live. I was placed in a waiting room where everyone was deceased...I never believed that doctor.

    My fight with death you can say was to the end. Several hours later, realizing that I had not died, they sent me to a childrens hospital in the capital, a four hour ride through the broken streets.

    It ended near midnight, when I took my last breath and said a prayer to God, asking him to protect my family (who was now homeless). My experience in the other world will be written in full detail in the book.

    My legs had to be amputated, and just when I realized that my life was over, an american couple who was doing charity work (earthquake relief) came into my ICU and immediately wanted to help. They would end up bringing me to the US and brought me prosthetics.

    The book, is a memoir, detailing the many difficult situations that took place between January 2001 and April 2002, when I began walking again. It is a story of perseverance, highlighting the kindness of many strangers who have helped me become who I am.

    Just as many people have helped me, I am now dedicated to helping others. In the summer of 2012 (after graduating college) I kayaked the Mississippi River, raising over $70K in the process to help The Wounded Warrior Project and The Wheelchair Foundation.

    I am currently a motivational speaker. I particularly enjoy speaking to young kids (who still believe that I lost my legs wrestling sharks in the circus)

    My agent and I are currently speaking to various publishing houses and I am excited about publishing the book. I hope you all enjoy it.
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