Baby Arjay

She looked like she had been beat in the face. Her eyes were black and blue, bloodshot, the eyelids swollen three times their size. Her voice was raspy and she seemed utterly exhausted.
Why do they wait until 10 o’clock at night to come for help? Is it easier to ask for something when it is dark outside?
Obviously distressed, I gently probed, wondering what was really happening. The baby, was sick. That was obvious. Only 3 weeks old, he had been in the hospital for the past 2 weeks with pneumonia. He was skinny and his cough was like a high pitched bark. I shook my head. Discharged but not recovered… yet again, I am left to try to do what the hospitals can’t… or won’t.
The rest of the story? The husband left her alone in the hospital with the baby. He gave no money and no support. She seemed so down, her eyes so heavy. She had been crying for 3 days until a friend mentioned that Gentle Hands might help her.
The place where they lived was only 2X3. They slept on cardboard and had little else to speak of. It was right near an open canal… I quickly checked the nursery for beds… none… but, wait! Just 3 weeks old, ArJay could sleep in our little baby chair!
I spent time with her counseling her and finally praying with her. I had suspicion she was dealing with post-partum depression along with all the other stuff.
Arjay
I insisted she come back the next day with her husband and their 3 year old. I needed to know more. "You’ll keep him?" she asked. "Of course," I said. "But only until he is better and you are strong. He’ll be just fine." She dropped her head in her hands and sobbed, gut wrenching sobs. Then a long sigh, and she stood slowly. A soft, relieved smile, and I watched her leave. She didn’t even look back.

Joy Joy

JoyjoyIt had already been a full long day and I was running downstairs to have a long overdue meeting with my house help. As I gathered my papers in order and set the chairs out, one of my ladies casually mentioned the three children she had noticed earlier outside our gate. They were street children, she said, it was obvious. They had no shirts and no shoes. They were crying hysterically. She had tried to make them leave but they just wouldn’t go!
I looked over at my staff in disbelief. I could hardly process what she had just said. I dropped my papers and ran out the gate. Sure enough, there was a gaggle of children surrounding the three sobbing “shirtless” ones. I picked up the youngest one and grabbed the hand of the second and dragged them inside. The third, I suspected, would follow.
Up the stairs we went, away from the many staring eyes of the street, and into the office. Plopping them on the couch, they screamed even louder. “We want our mommy,” the older one said. Their cheeks were tear stained, their eyes full of fear. Their poor little feet had been without shoes for sometime. They were black and calloused. Their clothes were rags and they smelled of the street.
I knelt before them and gently asked, “Where is your mommy? What happened? How did you get here?” The questions came too fast. Suddenly, tears were streaming down my face. Ages 8, 5, and 3, their father was dead. Earlier that day, they had been forced to beg for money. Then they had brought to the gate by their mother and told not to move. Suddenly, the mother ran away. Abandoned. No explanation. No other information.
My chest felt tight and I ran out of the office. I dropped my head in my hands and sobbed. My heart was so heavy. These poor children. How long had they stood outside my gate? How many of my staff saw them and tried to make them leave? Why had no one called me?
I couldn’t imagine what was going on in their mother’s head. Did life get too hard? Or was she dropping off her burdens for someone else because she wanted to do other things… How could a mother just leave her children? Did I know her? Would I ever have the answer to these questions?
A few hours later, after feeding my own precious family, I went down to check the three waifs. They had been bathed and changed, the older two were playing with the younger children. Climbing on the bed, looking in the cupboards, laughing and playing with the toys. The little one was still sitting in the kitchen. The pain she felt, evident on her face.
I picked her up and held her. She still hadn’t really settled from just a few hours before. Just three years old… Her teeth were rotten away to just stubs. She had hair dye in patches as though she was someone’s toy doll and they had been experimenting. My eyes burned with tears. She wasn’t skinny, that was a fact, but her eyes were empty. I looked into them. Big, beautiful brown eyes with nothing to see. You are safe here baby, I whispered to her. She laid her head down on my chest and cried again. I cried, too.