In our last post we begged my mother-in-law to come to Honduras and spend a week in San Pedro holding babies in an orphanage. Well, after an incredible and potentially life changing week, Edna and her sister-in-law Deanna left Honduras on Saturday!! Thanks again to you both for coming down here and loving these amazing children.
Before last week, Sean and I had been to the Nueva Esperanza orphanage twice, but only for fairly quick tours. It´s amazing how you start to see the heart of the matter when you spend consecutive days there. The first day and a half we spent nearly all of our time with the babies. There are roughly 25 babies and severly handicapped children in this room. The bottom line is that the workers are taking care of the basic needs of these children and have no time for loving, bonding or cognitive development. We tried to give the kids some much needed one on one attention and cuddle time, along with singing to them and playing games. Potentially my favorite moment was when I was holding a child (probably about 1 year old or a little younger) and I just stared into his eyes and he stared back. He would switch between staring at me and searching my entire face, just taking it all in. Here are some of our favorite pictures.
I absolutely love this picture. Deanna bought a bunch of baby toys (there were a few stuffed animals, but no toys at the center). This little girl just looked and looked and looked at the new toy. So precious.
This was Sean’s cling on all week. She is an adorable little girl, but only smiled a handful of times while we were there. Sean got her to warm up a little, but only after a LOT of loving.
The best part about this picture is the kid in the back. What exactly was going through his mind when we took this picture!
This is Cynthia Gabriella – a.k.a. Princess. If Deanna could adopt, this child would be heading to the States!
Edna and Deanna holding some of the youngest.
This was our all time favorite picture of the week. Edna just gave this little girl’s hair a trim. It looks like she’s not too sure about her new look. Then we have Cynthia Gabriella in the back with her gigantic eyes thinking Oh, no!!! Am I next???
This is where our time at the orphanage got really hard. I debated on how detailed I should get with this story, but Sean said that I should tell it all, so here goes. This might be hard to read, but I do believe this child deserves for his story to be known. It´s very detailed, but I don´t want to forget a moment of it.
This is Richard.
His sweet smile and the hell that he lives in has really rocked my world. Whenever I let my mind wander, I always come back to him and to what we experienced last week. Tuesday afternoon was the first day that we did much with the older kids at this orphanage. After lunch we bought some watermelon and wanted to give all the kids a piece. As Edna and Deanna were cutting the melons, Sean and I were in the cafeteria with the boys (ages 5-12). It was incredible chaos. I noticed 2 boys fighting and went to break it up. One of the boys was Richard. He was crying and the boy he was fighting with was laughing. I seperated them and tried to get Richard to talk to me, but he was crying too hard. Other boys kept coming up and were pushing him or taunting him as I tried to talk. So I just became his protector during the watermelon ordeal and made sure the kids stayed away from him more or less. Later in the day, I was talking to two girls when another fight broke out. Again, it was Richard, with another boy. The female employee was standing a few feet away doing absolutely nothing. I asked her why she wasn´t doing anything. She said that she doesn´t want to get hit. I asked if I could do something. She said I´d get hit too, but that I could. I grabbed Richard and pulled him away. He struggled for a while, got away from me and ran outside onto the gravel driveway. He then started throwing rocks at people in the building. At this point 4 of the older boys came strutting down the stairs and across the courtyard. I wish that I could describe the way they looked. The image is burned into my brain. You could tell that this was not the first time they have been called upon to take care of Richard and you could tell they reveled in the power they had been given. Each of them grabbed either an arm or a leg and started dragging Richard upstairs to the boys room as he struggled with all his might. I followed closely to make sure they didn´t pull a limb out of its socket or bash his head on the floor. A crowd of boys was following throwing things at him as well. We got to the boys room and I thought they were just going to lock him in there to calm down. Nope. They were going to force him to calm down. They were shoving him against the wall. Pushing him down and sitting on him. Hitting him. At this time we had about 12 other boys in the room joining in on the fun. I couldn´t take it anymore and asked the worker if we could have all the kids leave. As they were all leaving Sean came into the room with me. The worker left with the kids and locked the three of us into the room. Richard was crying and yelling so hard and loudly and he was tearing the cloth covering of one of the mattresses. I held his hands to try and make him stop. He then took his shirt off and proceeded to shred the shirt into tiny pieces. Sobbing and yelling the whole time. Sean and I just sat next to him as he yelled “I want my mommy!” “I don´t want to be here!” “God help me!” After about 30 minutes the worker brought him dinner, but the rest of the boys filed in as well. We sat near him and made sure that no one took his food as he ate. Then he went off by himself and laid down on a bed. It killed me to leave him that night, knowing that there´s a good chance all of this was going to happen again.
I saw him again on Wednesday. We talked for a while. He had two shots that morning and he definitely seemed calmer. I talked to some of the girls about him the day before and they said that Richard doesn´t have friends because he is crazy and he had the devil living inside him. It absolutely kills me that he is growing up believing this. I definitely think that he has many issues, but I did not see a crazy child. I see a child who is DAILY being abused by his peers and has absolutely no power to stop it. He tries to fight back, but he hasn´t hardened himself enough yet to fight ruthlessly and without emotion. Therefore, he is an easy target for these boys who need to constantly prove that they are tough (in hopes that others won´t mess with them.)
During our conversation on Wednesday I also learned more about his story. (I am hoping to go back again on Thursday this week with a truly bilingual person so I can make sure that I fully understood him.) He was born in Veracruz, Mexico. When he was four, his family decided to illegally travel to the States by riding on the tops of trains. This is dangerous for healthy, athletic, 20 something men, much less a family with small children. Click here for more info about the trains.
At some point in the trip, he was seperated from his family. The government couldn´t find his family so he spent time in an orphanage in Mexico. Then he was adopted by a Honduran family. They fell on hard economic times and gave him back to the Honduran government. Can you imagine if this is true?? Can you imagine having a poor, but loving family that you are seperated from, then grow up in this absolute hell??? He gave me the full names of his parents, uncle and brother. If anyone has any idea how to go about searching for this family I could really use some guidance.
And now the question for us is what are we going to do? I saved some of the rocks the boys were throwing at Richard because I do not want to forget and go back to life as usual. Have you ever read Lord of the Flies? This is that book brought to life. And we kept being reminded that these are children! On Wednesday, Sean and I were hanging out with them and they were showing us all of their gang signs. One of them reminded me of glasses, so I turned the gang sign upside down with my fingers and made “glasses” over my eyes. The next moment all these tough, violent boys were ALL making sunglasses as well. One person I´ve talked to about this said we need to get this place shut down. But if we shut it down, they are just going to go to some other overcrowded, underfunded place. Also, Sean and I kind of have free reign in that building. The director trusts us and allows us to come whenever we want. I don´t want to have these doors closed on us so that we don´t even have access to the kids at all. So, we are going to be rallying the troops here. We´ll be trying to gather as much information as possible about adoption options, hiring more staff, training the staff, moving some of the boys (Richard!) and babies to other, less overwhelmed locations. I am open to suggestions, information or expertise that any of you may have. Uncle Larry – how do I track down Richard´s parents? EZ – do you know how to find information about immigration/adoption laws in Honduras? And once again, for anyone that has even an inkling of a desire to come down here, there is a need, and no matter what skills you have, they are needed here. And for everyone else – please pray for these children. Pray until you can´t anymore, then keep going. And pray that this stays at the forefront of Sean´s and my mind. We want to move a mountain here, and it´s really easy for doubts to creep in about whether or not that mountain can really be moved.