As with many of our children, someone who knew our work, brought the sibling group of 4 last week.
The mother has been in jail for several months. The father goes to work on Monday, leaving the 7 year old to care for the 5, 4,and 2 year old. He leaves no food and no money. When he comes home on Saturday night, if he finds out they have been asking the neighbors for food or water, he beats them.
There are no words to describe the tears of a 7 year old, aged beyond her years with the burden of the lives of her siblings. Her tears are steady as she tells of doing laundry, cleaning the house, scrounging for food for the four of them, and then the spankings if something is not done right.
I can’t seem to believe what she has lived through.
And the littlest one is the casualty. Born the night of the horrible floods of super-typhoon Ondoy, almost exactly 2 years ago, he lived only to now be slowly starving to death.
I hug them all and tell them they are safe. They have seen too much. There is no emotion; their eyes are deep, black holes. Their hearts are heavy, they walk slowly. They cry no tears at being brought here. They sit staring off in the distance. I am afraid to think what is in their minds. Their little spirits are all but broken.
And the littlest one doesn’t want to live.
I held his bony little face in my hands last night. And I told him he had no choice; he had to live – he had to fight – he was valuable and beautiful and I loved him. And Jesus loved him. He could do this.
He closed his eyes as if to think deeply. It was a few minutes and he opened them slowly. He looked at me. Yes, I said. You will live. I wrapped him up and held him close and carried him for a long time.
“On the day you were born… you weren’t bathed and cleaned up… No one did one thing to care for you tenderly… you were thrown out into a vacant lot and left there, dirty and unwashed.
And then I came by. I saw you all miserable and bloody. I said to you, ‘Live!’ And live you did.”