I ran down the stairs to Elaine. Her stomach was hurting and she was calling for me.

She was shivering, holding her water bottle and blanket tightly. The tears seem to spill out of her eyes. There was no emotion, just the tears chasing each other down her pale light brown cheek.

She was brought to our door by someone who knew about our work in Malabon. Her older half sister came with her that first day and as mysteriously as she showed up, she suddenly left. We knew nothing of Elaine’s history or her current situation except that it was made clear she was very sick and unwanted.

It was a Friday night, the rain was pouring, Her fever was raging and she was shaking. Just skin and bones, she couldn’t walk. Her eyes flitted from face to face. She hardly had strength to speak, much less fight the meds I quickly started her on. She was terrified that first night, fort sure. I stroked her head and rubbed her tiny hands, whispering that everything was okay. Only once would she look at me.

She has been here exactly one month, tonight. The rains are pouring outside again. But she is tucked into a little bed in the corner of a room now. She is able to walk and she laughs the most beautiful laugh. But she seems to be burdened tonight, as I give her meds to stop her tummyache. I sit with her for a while and stroke her head. We are friends now and she seems to trust me.

Mama used to care for me. I have always been sick. I only went to grade one but I was too sick. Then mama threw up blood and they rushed her to the hospital but she died before they got there. That was two years ago, I think.

Her frail little hand came up and brushed at the stream of tears.

Then my auntie’s wouldn’t feed me. They didn’t want me. I was so weak. And then I got so sick and then my sister didn’t want me and someone told them to bring me  here to you.

Then suddenly she flung her tiny arms around  around my neck. If you didn’t take me, I know I would be dead. Her little body heaved with sobs. That’s why I’m so thankful to you for letting me stay here and for taking care of me. I’m so thankful.


Her tears burned my neck and I could hardly speak. I held her tightly, wishing I could take away her pain and lonlieness and make her know she was safe and loved.

She settled and I layed her down to sleep. She snuggled under the soft green and pink blanket I had given her.

She is so tiny. Everything about her is fragile, almost breakable. Her eyes are deep and speak of things I cannot even imagine. She holds my eyes until I smile and tousel her hair. It’s okay, I reassure her. Sleep now.

She is only 9 years old and she has hurt enough for a lifetime.


Dennis It was a frantic call from the community Malabon, where we have been working for over a year now. A young boy was being beat again… his head banged into the wall. The neighbors were horrified and the child was crying. I promised to come the next day and see if I could help.

The next day, I wound my way through the narrow alleyways and through the puddles of stagnant rain water and dirty laundry water to the house. The neighbors were as to be expected, huddled by the windows waiting for me, anxious to tattle-tale on their abusive neighbor. It seemed the man was a drunkard and made the 13 year old his slave, especially the nights he started drinking early. It usually ended with some abuse that left Dennis in a heap, sobbing himself to sleep. I was thankful the neighbors had heard his cries.
I spoke to the boy and his eyes seem to be empty. He was broken, that was sure. He wanted to come with me, he wanted “out” and that was all I needed. I loaded him in the van without a comment. He sat frozen in the middle seat. I wonder what was going through his little mind. He would stay with the group of young boys we now affectionately call the “monsters”, ages 10-13 year olds. I explained it all to him and he hardly blinked.   
An investigation by my social worker into relatives, past schools, proved that the man was not even Dennis’ real father, just the live-in boyfriend of the woman who had cared for Dennis since birth. The woman, not even his mother, died last September, leaving Dennis at the mercy of this man.
It has been 4 days since he has been here. He has made himself at home and has been cheerful though cautious. He called me “mom” tonight as the monsters made their way downstairs for bed. I hugged him and told him he was safe. 
So now, it is late at night. Everyone is tucked in and I am madly cleaning the house before I fall into bed. As I move the piles of papers and other things that have gathered over the day, there in black permanent marker, someone has written on my nice white shelf. I sigh. And suddenly there are no words to express how I feel.

Mom, I love you. Dennis.

Eighteen months ago, I moved Alex and his older sister upstairs into our home. He was always in trouble with the caregivers. He was always disobeying or causing fights or breaking toys. I overheard several complaints by several caregivers and I was worried. It’s hard to love a child that presents as unloveable. It’s even harder when you are caring for ten others and one is always acting out. He had been in our center for several years by that time and remained unbonded and unconnected to anyone. Hardly spoke and lived in his own little world. Read more

For 3 years we have been looking at the property next door to our present building, praying, dreaming, and hoping to have more space for our 40 children that live in such cramped quarters. The dream was to have more bedrooms, more classrooms, a chapel, a large multipurpose room and a bigger place to play. Read more