As in the last post I said that I would, here is a copy of Juan Daniel’s memorial speech, which I read for the Convent House staff. Enjoy.
Juan Daniel Salgado
I am here today to say a little something in memory of Juan Daniel Salgado, who sadly died on 27th January 2012, along with Brayan Francisco Guerrero and Allan Antonio Cáceres. All three boys, I believe, had lived in Casa Alianza at some point of their short lives.
Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to get know Brayan or Allan. But with Juan Daniel Salgado I did. During my year of volunteering with Casa Alianza, I wrote a book with the experiences of many children and youths here. One of the boys I interviewed was Juan Daniel. With all the interviewees, I built a level of trust and friendship with them. They had told me very personal things about their lives, in order to help me tell the world the realities of deprived youths in this country. While he told me about many of sad things about what he had experienced, people who had let him down and mistakes that he had, I also got to know the great things about Juan Daniel, such as his sense of humour, his cheekiness, his ability to make close friendships, I saw his artwork and watched him play football for the Casa Alianza football team, as well as try to understand him as a young man. I guess over the years of him coming in and out of Casa Alianza, many children and staff here today got to witness his better qualities too, and forged better and closer friendships with him than myself, but they also saw that he had problems.
Daniel did not have the best start to life. He was born in Catacamas in Olancho and was only a couple of months old when his mother left to go to the USA. He then went to live his father and step-mother, who he sadly told me beat him badly on a constant basis. When he was 10 years old, he fled home and went on to the streets. When he was 11 or 12, he came to Tegucigalpa with a friend and found Casa Alianza. Unfortunately, his addiction to drugs and street life deepened throughout his teenaged years. He regretted a lot of his actions during these years, which he told me were a little bit of a haze, and by the time I had interviewed him, he was trying to improve his life, kill his drug habit and adapt to adulthood.
Through getting to know him, I saw him as a self-confident boy, someone with charming personality, and battled on regardless of his problems. He liked to confuse me by saying something very fast in Spanish, and he began teaching me vocabulary from the streets, such as “maziso” and “tombado”. As I said, many people here got to know him well and may have seen him flirt with the girls and play jokes on people. We also got to see that he could be sentimental and he had a natural artistic talent.
Juan Daniel left Casa Alianza in August 2011. After another short period on the streets, he lived in a different project, as well as coming to Casa Alianza to join in in some activities. In December 2011, before I left Honduras, I saw him in the centre and he told me that he was going to be doing some local art projects, which he was extremely excited about. He was smiling and seemed very happy with life.
The next time I heard about Juan Daniel was when I received a message that he had been killed. I then read more about it online, a Honduran newspaper website, that he was murdered in Colonia La Joya in Tegucigalpa, the killers are not known.
One of the things that he told me in the interview was that he didn’t think he would live past 20 years of age. He was 18 when he died. He had a pre-feeling. He was not wrong.
He is remembered and loved by everybody in Casa Alianza.