Lately, on my social media, you may have noticed links to help bring John and Ari to the United States. Maybe you’re not quite sure what that’s all about, or just how important it is. My friend Alex is trying to raise $6500.00 to bring his little brothers to the United States. It’s more than that though. He’s trying to raise $6500.00 so that John and Ari – two little boys who had tragic and unthinkable beginnings – can have a chance.
Alex is a pretty selfless guy. No, seriously. I’ve got a lot of friends, but I’m not sure how many of them would drop their entire life and move to a foreign country to take care of two little boys after finding out they were their half siblings. Yeah, that’s what Alex did. He’s a talented makeup artist, a veteran of the National Guard, and a big brother who’s trying to do everything in his power to keep his two little brothers safe, and bring them home to the United States. It hasn’t been an easy journey.
It’s hard to sympathize with a plight you don’t know anything about. I get that. So, I asked Alex to answer some questions, tell his story, and let the world know just exactly what this money is for.
Hey Alex, thanks for taking the time to do this. I know things aren’t easy for you and your family right now. Why don’t you tell people a little about yourself, so they know the man behind the interview?
Well, there’s not much to me. I’m a little bit country, I’m a little hit rock and roll. (Laughs) Just kidding. Well the short version – I was born in Boston and lived there until I was about seven or eight. We moved to Florida when I was sixteen. I left home and finished high school in Boston. After, I joined the National Guard. I served for about three years, and then get out early.
First and foremost, thank you for your service to our country. What about your upbringing and family life?
My up bringing was pretty abusive. My father definitely had a temper. He would take it out on the family especially when alcohol was involved. We had our share of beat downs at his hands. Luckily, we were pretty resilient. I knew at a young age I always wanted to have children, so when I heard my father had two other small kids out there I wanted to find them.
Growing up in a toxic environment like that couldn’t have been easy. How did your family get away from your abusive father?
It took several years. I think our age had something to do with us finally getting away from it all. My parents were married for eighteen years and it wasn’t until middle school that a lot of push from both sides of the family made my mom finally file for divorce. My dad pretty much left carefree. He didn’t care about us, but he obtained a business, a boat, and a new life thanks to my mom. All she got was the car and house payment, and a lot of debt. I guess when I look back it was worth it, because we also got our freedom.
I imagine it couldn’t have been easy, but your family escaped an abusive situation, you graduated high school, and joined the military. Now, you’re helping your two half-brothers escape the fate you had as a child. How did you even find out about John and Ari?
Luckily, everyone in a small village talks. Everyone’s business gets out there, especially when it comes to someone like my farther whom everyone knows; you could say he gets around. We heard from someone, who heard from someone else, who told an aunt, who then told a cousin – and well you get the idea. After hearing the rumors, I did a little research and confirm it. John and Ari are my brothers.
That definitely was lucky. Small world has a whole new meaning when you put it like that. A lot of people wouldn’t be doing what you are. You’ve relocated your whole life, going to live in Honduras so that you could keep the boys safe. That’s extremely noble and selfless. What made you decide to do this?
As soon as I discovered the boys were real and not some fabricated rumor, I set out to meet them. At the time my ninety year old grandfather was the legal guardian. He was the one who initially rescued them. Unfortunately, due to his age, and the amount of care the boys needed, he had given them to one of my aunts to raise. It was around that time four years ago that I visited them for the first time.
I immediately I fell in love. I’ve always wanted a brother and here I had two. I promised to help as much as I could, especially since my father wasn’t around and the boy’s mother had passed away. The family caring for them was considered extremely poor by American standards so I promised to help as much as I could. It wasn’t until 2010 that I became more involved and visited more each time bringing boxes of food and clothing, as well as medicine and vitamins. I also cleaned and repaired the house they were in. I thought things were going well but I was fooled.
The monthly allowance as well as the care packages were not going to use the way we thought. I thought the help was going to the kids but it was being used to pay off debts my aunt had because of her son who was – or I should say still is a drug and alcohol user. He uses my aunt, steals, and has her pretty much blinded which of course is horrible in itself, but I took it personal because it affected my boys.
During my visits I noticed they were being left for last. For instance dinner would be made everyone else got to eat before them. The toys and other provisions I sent were being taken from the boys and given to other kids in the family. They were so skinny and looked so unhealthy. When I saw them in that state, it broke my heart. All the other kids had meat on their bones, the caretakers we nice and plump but my boys were all skin and bones. They always had an excuse as to why the boys weren’t getting what they needed.
The boys were also forced to share a bed so that my aunt’s son could sleep in the other one I bought for them. Food was disappearing from the house, more than likely being sold to pay off debts or for drug money. My boys were too afraid to tell me what was happening. During phone calls I tried to get them to talk but all they said was things were fine. Every time I went to visit my aunt and her family put on a good show. She even made her son and his three teenage kids leave while I was in town. There is so much crap that went on its hard to believe. I don’t think there’s enough space and time to go into every detail if the stuff I slowly started to discover. Which brings back to the why I decided to finally stay.
That’s heartbreaking, that so much was taken from them without a thought to their well being. What were things like when you first met them? Their health and state of mind?
Health wise they looked horribly skinny and mentally they were very traumatized from things that happened to them. The death of their mother, their absentee father, and being passed around knowing that they weren’t really wanted by those who cared for them. They were mentally, physically and verbally abused and told regularly they weren’t smart enough or that they were bad kids because of their parents. They were constantly being confused and given chores that the other kids in the house didn’t have to do. In school they were acting out and misbehaving they were not doing homework or studying. It was bad. I defiantly had my work cut out for me.
It sounds like you definitely did. How long have you been in Honduras with the boys?
I’ve been here since February 2013. Prior to that I had a few short visits dealing with legal hearings, meetings with the boys lawyer, and the judge in charge of the case. I had been trying to get custody of them for almost a year and a half. Finally, I was awarded full custody last year. It feels like I’ve been here forever. I wish I had known sooner about the deception. Maybe I could’ve started the process sooner maybe I could’ve done things differently. We have gone through a lot since I got here.
And what are the boys like now? Tell us a little about them.
They’ve come a long way and it’s taken a lot of time and patience. Physically, the changes are amazing. John and Ari are healthy and happier now then they have been in years. John still has some issues and is still a work in progress. He’s had a hard time showing and accepting love. He is an amazing artist and loves to draw. Ari is very smart and does very well in school. His adjustment and progress has come much farther than John’s. He’s loving and according to recent blood work one hundred percent healthy. Both boys have improved in school and the teachers say whatever it is I’m doing to keep doing it. The boys have done a complete reversal from where they were originally in that regard. They’ve gained weight, grown, and over all come a long way – but there’s still a long way to go.
You said their mom passed away. What happened there?
I’m not really sure what she was going through. I can only imagine it had something to do with my father leaving. Their mom was an excessive drug and alcohol abuser. She would tie the boys up and then go out partying. She lost her way and there was no coming back. The kids were taken from her multiple times. She would go to where the kids were living and make a scene trying to take them. When the kids were taken from her the last time that’s when she was found dead on the side of a road at age twenty-four. I think. It was very sad. John still remembers a lot of the things she would do. We don’t talk about her and they don’t bring her up. The boys aren’t ready to talk about her.
That had to be heartbreaking for the boys. They haven’t had it easy, and you’re doing your best to make sure that they get a good chance to make it in life. Now, just so the readers know, why is the number so high? Why is it so expensive to bring the boys over?
It’s actually cheaper than if an adult were to do it. A majority of the cost goes to travel expenses. We’re six hours from the capital (US embassy) by bus. From there Immigration is an hour and forty-five minutes in the opposite direction. They don’t make it easy. It took me two days just to get birth certificates from the city. Then I was told it wasn’t enough and I needed “literal” birth certificates which are typed or written and include the grandparents and parents and some other random information and cost quite a bit to have the same city do it.
Right there money and a trip was wasted because they failed to mention the legal birth certificate wasn’t good enough. I have to pay for each of them individually. Here it’s all about the money. If you’ve got it things happen – if you don’t they take forever. The system here is so corrupt it’s a miracle people get out. Other things included in that number are, lawyer fees, travel, food, clothing, the boy’s passports and visa costs, as well as their plane tickets home.
Thanks for that information, Alex. Now, tell the readers one more thing. What is your ultimate goal for your little brothers? What do you want most for them?
I want to give them a better life away from the poverty, illness, and suffering. I want them to have good memories of their childhood. Not just memories of being tied up and abused. They deserve a chance, a better shot at life then what they’ve been given. It’s not their fault they were dealt a bad hand. They are at risk here. In this country most kids don’t grow up to be productive parts of society. They end up on the street or drunks or in gangs or worse – dead. I want better for them.
They deserve a chance.
If you’re interested in helping John and Ari you can donate money to the cause at Go Fund Me – Help John and Ari Get To The US. Even if you can’t donate money, please spread the words. These are two little boys, dealt a bad hand, and like Alex said: They deserve a chance.