A fellow director of a children’s home called. They were closing their home. 13 years, I think she said, and they had to close because of a lack of funding. My heart ached for her; that fear of no operational money, so close to my heart, so often.
The home had a few children who they hadn’t been able to find placements for and wondered if we had room. We didn’t really, but I told her yes, praying that I would never be in her shoes.
We prepared for transfer of one child, with bilateral cleft lip and cleft palate. As we talked about timing, Nurse Jo reminded me of her appointment with the surgeon on Monday. Friday, I asked for the child to be brought in to go along for an initial assessment.
He came with his social worker, just a little waif and amazingly, he was cleared for surgery for the next day.
Gideon upon arrival to Gentle Hands
The surgery went well, despite the lack of skin to pull together to close his lip. He recovered remarkably, despite the swelling and discomfort for the first two weeks. The most remarkable thing was that for this surgery, we paid nothing.
I was so sure that God was showing how His hand was on this child. The director felt it, too. I prayed for her heart to be strengthened and comforted.
This little one was found in a backpack outside a restaurant, just 3 months old. He was loved and cared for so well by the staff of the children’s home and now, he will be cared and loved by us. Another six children will come at the end of November and join the already 80 children at Gentle Hands.
Gideon, an appropriate name, it is a Hebrew name meaning apowerful warrior. His namesake is a man in the Bible who won battles through skillful planning and faith rather than the strength of arms alone. God was clearly on his side.
And so Gideon, we fight on. Believing that God has a mighty plan for your little life, too.
Gentle Hands is the only agency at present, accepting children with severe medical needs or other complications. Although some procedures are done with little charge to us, some we pay full cost for.
If you have a heart for medical things, please donate to our regular account and note “medical”. We will set it aside for the next child with medical needs.
We spend almost $1000 a month on medicine and we anticipate this to rise as we begin our advocacy program to intervene for children who can be helped medically and surgically before international adoption and not just after.
And please continue to support us monthly.
We have literally doubled in size within the last year. Expenses have obviously increased as well.
Continue to pray for us as we are on the front lines of rescue and rehabilitation of children who are abandoned and abused. God hears their cries and will honor you as you help us to keep our doors wide open.
For the children,
Anyone that came to Gentle Hands would see lola. Maybe hear lola singing in her beautiful soprano voice or just playing her ukulele. She would say to everyone, “God bless you! Thank you for visiting me.” No matter if it was a 5 minute chat or an hour long.
She told stories of hiding in the caves when the Japenese came to the Philippines. And as the months went on, and she became more fragile, she remembered her children.
She talked about their stubbornness, their wrongs, but how much she loved them. She wondered where they were and how could she find them. She remembered with so much love and tenderness how she carried them in her tummy and birthed them and then raised them. Each child, she knew.
Poverty and hardship has a way of wreaking havoc on life and relationships. And lola’s children went their separate ways and contact remained minimal. The daughter who cared for her was harsh and often cruel. Burdened perhaps by the pressure and guilt of having little to give to her ageing, ailing mother.
So last year, she fell and broke her hip and almost died. She came to us and recovered enough to become a part of our Gentle Hands family. We loved her. Rarely could you find lola without a child or her caregiver beside her. They would sing, tell stories, and laugh when the same story would be told three times over. They rubbed her little feet and put nail polish on. They gave her letters and drawings and teddy bears. They loved her.
Somehow, the son who she really was close to in earlier years, came with another sister to pick lola up. Lola was so frail. So weak. We had known for weeks the end was near.
As our USA marine visitors prepared to drive lola and her children to the province, we said our goodbyes and prayed.
She put her frail arms around my neck and whispered, ” Neng,” as she always called me, “If I have ever offended you. If I ever did anything to hurt you, forgive me. Please forgive me.”
And I held my breath. “Oh lola… you have done nothing but blessed me. You are so loved.”
She wept tears that ran down my neck.
We released her to her family. Her teddy bears, her clothes, her sheets, pillows, and warm blankets. Everything that she had been given over the year. She told me not to forget her ukulele. I made sure she had it.
It was hard to let them drive away with her… so hard.
On August 25th, Lola went to be with the Lord, just two weeks after we let her go.
She didn’t fit into any of our programs and services but she enriched our lives like we never imagined. She was grandma to our children. She provided rich history for them.
She taught them to respect the elderly and to care for the aged. She couldn’t bake cookies or take them places but she was in every sense of the word, grandma to our children.
And she was lola to me, too.
A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law said I was sentimental. I hadn’t thought much about it… until two days ago.
I was standing alone, looking at a bed. Read more
|As the Executive Director of a Child Caring Agency, sometimes my job means doing a little investigating and public relations work. Our children sometimes come to us with little history and we need to uncover where they have come from.
But honestly, sometimes the things I do in a day seem I am in a movie. Here was one such day last week.
For years I have visited jails in the Philippines. Sometimes it is to see wayward boys, sometimes to see people in the community that were wrongly accused. Sometimes it’s for outreach and evangelism. Lately, it seems it is to see parents of children in my custody.
The justice system is a little different here in the Philippines and what you are charged with is often not what you did. You can spend 5 years in prison just waiting to have a sentence. The courts are so backed up. You can also be totally guilty and be let go after only a few months sentence because someone forgot to show up at court.
On this day, I am ushered past the 15 foot walls and guards in to interview again, a mother of 6 of our children. I am always startled when I see her. She is pretty. Her short hair neatly cut and combed. She is chubby, healthy looking. So out of place from where I know she is from and how her children were upon intake to us.
At the jail where the mother was held
She cannot read or write. Well, her name. But just barely. She tells me over and over that she was not a bad mother. She did everything she could just to take care of them.
I hadn’t asked her anything about her being a mother. And I don’t respond. I need answers to many questions. I need to know the history of these children.
When I ask her why at 4 years old, one does not speak, she tells me I am lying. When I ask her why the little one walks with a limp, she tells me nothing ever happened to him. When she tells me she never hurt her children but her neighbors framed her up, I ask her why. She says they were jealous of her. When I ask why the 3 year old screams in the night almost every night, she tells me he is just like that. When I ask why all the children are full of scars, she says it was her boyfriend’s fault.
the area where the children played, in front of their house..
the home of the children, where they were left by the mother
I stop asking questions. Maybe I don’t need to know, after all.
I have never been to jail and not left with a prayer over the one I have been there to visit. Today, I didn’t pray.
I leave angry at this mother for what she did to her children. But more angry at the partner who helped her abuse them and did not take care of her and beat her too.
I want to cry, I think. Mostly because the children she abused, I now care for every day. I have spent hours upon hours holding them when they cry, laugh, or scream through a temper fit. I have intentionally taught them that they can trust and they are safe. I have shown them that they are loved so much. When they wake up in the night with terrors, I hold them and sing to them. And sometimes cry tears over them as I pray their hearts would be healed. I have never seen such damaged children.
What horrors would drive a mother to hurt her children? Not just once. But over and over.
I have no answer.
Philippine General Hospital is one of the top teaching hospitals in the country. We have been referred a child with leukemia and I need to talk with social services and see the child for myself and assess him and how we could best meet his needs.
Sometimes what is written on paper is not really what is the true story and as I stood in the ward looking at the little boy,
His bones were brittle and had been broken accidentally. While they said he was aware, I don’t think he really showed regard for what was going on around him. He smiled yes. But only when touched or when he saw someone come near. More like an involuntary reaction. His hands were now stiff and unusable. He has a tube in his throat to help him breath. He has a tube in his nose so he can eat.
So I called for the doctor and after an hour discussion, I did agreed to take him. We were all on the same page. While he might recover from leukemia with weekly treatments, he would never return to a happy, normal little boy. His quality of life would be minimal. Very different than the referral stating a full recovery was expected.
If he would have been given continuous treatment, complications would not have happened to lead to this stage. If his father would have been responsible… But then I have never had to deal with my own child being diagnosed with cancer. And I have never been without a support system to help me deal with my children.
My heart heavy for the child, the father, and the other children whose eyes followed me the whole time I was in the ward.
What is your purpose here, God?
Missionaries of Charity.
Mother Teresa was an amazing woman. She is one of my heroes, actually. The home that is set up in honor of her name here in Manila, takes the “least of these”. But they must be bed ridden and have little chance of recovery. These children are mostly hydrocephalic and have very serious cerebral palsy.
photo from thomasiantriskelion.org site
It has been said to be a dark place. That they do nothing to help or push development. But really, when you look at their children, there is nothing to do to help their development. They need to be fed, cleaned, and loved until their Creator takes them home.
I think what the sisters do, in sacrificing their life to care for these children, is admirable. If I didn’t believe so, I wouldn’t have been able to transfer one of our children there. A decision I made from my desk. I had to.
He woke up as I called his name. He looked around. His eyes have always taken a while to focus. He looked well cared for. He was clean, his clothes nice and fresh. His teeth brushed. Even his hair combed. And my visit was unannounced.
The sister’s voice droned on and on about how they care for the least of these in the name of Mother Teresa. I went deep into my own world of flashing thoughts…
Did I do the right thing? Was I wrong to transfer him here? But how could we continue to care for him? How could we expect someone to adopt him? Did God understand I had to
How many times had my social worker and caregivers had this discussion. He was already growing tall, though he had no use of his limbs due to severe cerebral palsy.
He was heavy for my small, slightly built caregivers. He was male and we onlyhad female caregivers. He was requiring almost full time care and other children were being neglected. We were not set up for long term care such as he needed. We couldn’t afford to care for him. He wasn’t improving or developing on any level. Still very much an infant on all levels.
I had forgotten to tie my hair up and as I was leaning over his crib looking at him, and replaying the discussions in my head, I was surprised as his stiff little arm reached up and played with my hair.
Not once did he do this, but three times he touched my hair as though he knew me.
Are you okay, I asked him?
No one knows what he understands or not. No one knows what he sees, hears, or recognizes. But he smiled. And he ran his arm through my hair again.
I stood slowly, needing time to blink the hot tears away.
Thank you, sister, I said. I’ll come again. She smiled and hurried off to care foranother child.
The air hardly moved as I walked silently, alone, through the long, dark corridor.
I stepped into the sunshine and I had no answers.
So my mind and heart had little peace this day… but sometimes we must press on knowing that we do what we do for our God. We do what we do to the best of our ability and trust that HIS hand guides us and leads us in every decision and in every action.
God is still God even when we don’t have the answers.
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Ronnie was referred to us from a local government hospital. Abandoned. We knew why. Children with visible differences are often left. It is just too much to deal with for a young mother who probably has a multitude of equally heavy responsibilities.
We sleuthed and were able to find more of this little one’s history. It’s always questionable to know more. Sometimes better to not. Bottom line is he has suffered more than any little one should have suffered. He has been rejected enough.
So now, as our mandate is, we will love him and allow him to heal. At the same time, we will do all we can to give him the best opportunities and chances at having a permanent family. He is a fighter, to be sure. He has recovered from his malnutrition and is so responsive to his caregivers.
He is beautiful… and we have found a surgeon who will fix both his lip and palet in one operation.
It is not free but in order for us to have the best treatment and use a hospital that is clean and will respect our child’s privacy and rights, we have chosen to try to raise the funds.
The surgery will cost almost $5000 and as always if more money is raised, it will go to expenses like milk, diapers, toiletries, and rice.
You can give the following ways:
Through Online Giving in Canada, the USA, Australia and Worldwide; through monthly automatic withdrawal/debit giving; or through cheque or money orders.
Please check out the links above – ONE TIME GIVING or MONTHLY GIVING – and you can find the best way you can give to the work of Gentle Hands.
They are all tucked in… not in their own little beds but tucked in, none the less. Tummies full, cheeks kissed, belly’s tickled, and each one prayed over.
There are six of them. But it is the one, two and three year old that have captured my heart.
The abuse they have suffered is unfathomable to me. So little and they have known more fear, hunger and pain than I have known in my whole adult life.
They flinch at the slightest raise of the arm. They shriek when they think you are leaving the room. They cry endlessly to be held as if they cannot be held close enough, tight enough, often enough. They eat non-stop, until their bellies might burst and they still want milk. They have been starved. Maybe since they were born. The night is terrifying, with screams and dreams that don’t let them wake up.
They are broken. Their bodies are full of scars and healing wounds. Small ones that look like cigarette burns and fingernails scratches and boils and the worst part, for me, is just not knowing.
Each dirty diaper, they stand still as a statue. Waiting. Silent. Their bodies tensing when I change them. They hold my eyes. Baby powder gets a pat of approval. Baby lotion gets a smile and sometimes a giggle.
Their eyes watch every move of every person in the room. When I touch one of them, the others eyes’ follow my hands, intently. They already take care of each other. They protect each other. They have a sense of independence that I have never ever seen in ones so little. They are wiser and more aware than any children I have ever known.
And yet they are resilient. The middle one hugged me and kissed me spontaneously today. I had to blink my tears away.
They are learning to trust. They are learning that when they climb up in the high chair, there will be food. They are seeing when they get hurt, there are prayers, hugs and kisses. They are starting to relax and let me be the “mom”, the one who should take care of them. They are learning what love is.
I have rescued many and seen so many children heal over the last 13 years. But these siblings have awakened afresh in my heart the why of what we do.
And why we take those no one else will take.
And why we love how we love.
And why God sent His son Jesus to die for us.
I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt… there is hope in HIS love.
Gentle Hands has always been known to take the “least of these”, usually kids that no one else wants.
The reasons are usually simple. They don’t “fit the program” or they are a sibling group or they may require much counseling and medical intervention.
At present we have 69 children, and a waiting list- I’ve never had a waiting list.
Two years ago, we started seeing a trend of older female children and sibling groups, 4 up to 6 siblings consisting of brothers and sisters needing emergency placement, due to abuse, neglect and other traumatic circumstances.
We have 30 BIG KIDS right now- ages 8 to 14. We have split the boys into two levels and need to desperately split the girls.
Although most of these children are for adoption, one of the immediate and most important needs is to have a place to heal and just be safe.
I had reserved a space in the renovations of our third floor and had said many times to different people, “God will show us in time what we need to do with this space.”
A few weeks ago, a concerned citizen dropped a young girl at our door who was being abused as a worker in the local market. Her story is horrifying.
While we were trying to decide how best to help her, we saw that after just a few weeks of consistent care and love, there was already tremendous healing and growth happening in her little life.
It’s what God allows us to do at Gentle Hands. Take the broken and let them heal. For His glory.
The truth is, I could transfer her and several others to a government institution as most agencies do. Or I could figure out a way to make space and keep loving them and seeing God’s hand move in their life.
The room is itself is on the same floor as our livelihood programs – the sewing room and bakery – and right across from my office so I can keep my eye on them.
It has space for it’s own sitting area and eating area and a bedroom with 8 bunk beds. Jordan, our volunteer missionary, will be staying in the room next door to be the on-site full-time big sister.
This is a project that needs to be done quickly. I have 13 girls sleeping in a 12 x 15 foot room.
The following is still needed so I can make this room a haven for these precious girls:
construction of the beds and cabinets $4000
painting and labor 1500
6 wall fans 250
towels and sheets and curtains 500
pillows and mattresses 600
small couch sitting chairs 1000
water dispenser 300
I can think of lots of little things…lamps, floor mats, toiletries, mirrors, pictures for the walls, knick knacks to make it feel like their “home”.
If you have a burden for the least of these… if you believe that God can make beauty out of ashes… if you believe in the rights of the girl child… to be safe, provided for, and to be whole…
You can HELP us with this project!
I am so excited about the doors this will open for us and for the expanding ministry.
AS you pray about helping to complete the project, pray too about doing a monthly donation to our ministry.
We need to increase our operational funds and I believe we can do it by just people telling people. Only 300 hundred people giving $50 a month will take care of all of our financial needs every month. Tell your friends and family.
This is a good work… and you are PART of it!
Send me an email if you can help firstname.lastname@example.org
For love of the Poor,
We are so thrilled to have the adoption suite finished!
Situated on the 3rd floor of our building with windows that allow the constant breeze through, this room is ready for what it was intended for!
If it’s any consolation to us, we did it very well! Even before the adopting parents arrived, Marlies and Chato agreed that from Day 1, they would make a definite and conscious effort to back off more and more until the last two days they would no longer be in [the child’s] consciousness.
It was much harder for Marlies to do because in her mind’s eye, the toddler was hers from the day the child was handed over to them at 2 weeks old. After two years of getting up at night, changing diapers, running medical trips, emergency awakenings, crying, feeding, bathing, and intensive interaction, it is difficult to turn your back so to speak and hand over your charge to someone else whom you had to teach your baby to call “Mami and Papi.”
 who happened to be of European stock …
 who instilled Spanish European values and language into the child…
 who was eventually adopted by European parents from Northern Spain …
 after 3 previous sets of parents were interviewed and rejected …
 then both adoptive & foster parents getting along so well …
 with almost identical values and training …
 so the child felt hardly no transition trauma …This afternoon, [the child] went willingly, happily, laughing securely in the warm embrace of her new Mami and Papi, with whom she has had only a week to bond .. the young beautiful golden couple who slowly but surely replaced the old guard .. they, who had changed her, bathed her, fed her, loved her, hugged her and squeezed her .. together, the couple carried [the child] to the car that would take them to their hotel ..
Mutti stared out the window of the child’s room that somehow seemed so strangely empty, holding the last of the baby toys and blankies she was storing away .. the same ones that that held the tiny creature who lay so helplessly in her hands in what seemed such a long time ago .. Mutti took one last look at the bouncing two-year old running with her new mami and papi to the car ..
Did the Narra trees that normally stood up straight to form a canopy over the road seem like they were bent down more than usual in a last gentle caress as the car sped past? Did the tiny yellow flowers seem to fall just a bit more thickly like tears and swirled around the car? Nah, just a figment of one’s imagination ..
And yet what was not imagined were the quiet tears shed by the older folks within the depths of their hearts .. tears of bittersweet joy knowing their “baby” which was sadly never theirs since they were nothing more than temporary caretakers, would be assured a bright future with a loving family she can call her own ..
so it is written, so it shall be done .. and the cycle of life goes on!
Friday’s post contains no real words, other than these – why? we have out-of-town guests fri and most of saturday. i teach most of saturday. so ya…that is why. and this is also the close of A Day in the Life series…for now
to be honest, it takes a lot of time and energy to do these – as you have read, its always GO-GO-GO here at GH…so sitting down, taking photos off of my iphone and then typing everything after a LONG day – ya…as much as i’m thrilled to have been able to do this for you to get JUST a glimpse of what life at GH and for charity is, i’m glad i’m almost done doing the posts! haha. i mean really, i have a list as long as my arm that has GOT to be really looked at and done this week! charity needs stuff done! 😉
so thanks for reading, if you have been (hard to tell, as there weren’t many comments) and following our crazy days.. 🙂
here’s friday in photos: