A Dream Realized
Manuel Asitimbay's life revolved around his children – two 13-year-old twin boys he had not seen since they were 6 months old, an 8-year-old boy he supported financially even though he was not his biological father, and a 4-year-old son who lived with him and his wife, Carmen Mejias, in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Mr. Asitimbay, 36, was an immigrant from Ecuador who was proud to work as a cook at Windows on the World. He took such joy in the food he prepared and carefully arranged on the plates of his customers that he would take pictures of his favorite dishes to show to friends and relatives.
But Mr. Asitimbay's obsession was his children. Every month for the last 12 years, he sent part of his salary to Ecuador to help support the three older boys, who were cared for by an aunt. He often sent them care packages and once sent an upright piano and a guitar because he wanted them to appreciate music as much as he did. His dream was to bring them to the United States, said Dennis Diaz, a union organizer with Local 100 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union, who has befriended the Asitimbay family.
Mr. Asitimbay's goal was accomplished because of what happened on Sept. 11. With help from Local 100 and Senator Charles Schumer's office, the children arrived in New York two weeks ago.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 23, 2001.