Matt Watson

In the oven: A book on my friend Julio

Matt Watson

I’ve got a lot of projects in the oven right now, including learning French, preparing for what I want to do for a proposal/dissertation, working a content management job, doing creative writing, learning Chinese, going to church like I’m supposed to, etc. I’m not very organized, and some projects and commitments seem to slip slowly but surely to that dark place known as the Great and Terrible Back Burner.

One of those projects I’ve been working on for a while now is a book about a friend of mine named Julio Chojeda Torres. Julio lives in Lima, Peru, and like me, he has spinal muscular atrophy. We met back in 2009 via Internet SMA and disability circles. We hit it off from the beginning and became fast friends. We practiced Spanish and English over Skype and helped each other with translations.

Julio is a translator and jack of all trades at the Ann Sullivan Center of Peru, a school and training institution for children and young adults with disabilities. It really is an amazing institution with a great story, and I’d encourage you to read more about them.

Read about Julio too, which you can do for now on his blog, and in a few months, I hope to have a nice little book prepared for you. He had the idea more than a year ago, and the book will be based off our many late night conversations and several audio interviews with him and some of his closest friends. I hope the book will do justice to Julio’s story, and any proceeds from the book will go toward paying for Julio’s caregivers and equipment, since there is no government assistance in Peru for people with disabilities. Julio spends most of his paycheck every month just for someone to get him out of bed in the morning and back in bed at night. He has no help to take him home during the weekdays after work, so he literally sleeps at work during the week and only goes home on the weekends.

The Ann Sullivan Center and Julio’s relationship with the founder, Dr. Liliana Mayo, is a very moving story, and I’ll be blogging about it here and there as I gather more interviews, transcribe them, and write the book. Stay tuned!

June 15, 2015, Byram, Miss.