Today was r.o.u.g.h. For some reason, I’ve never spent much time with the toddlers at Nueva Esperanza. Yesterday I spent the afternoon there to help out two girls on my team. And I met Angel. All the kids were running around and he was just laying on the floor, staring off into space. I remember my first thought being that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand the depth of his loneliness. I picked him up off the ground and put him in my lap. He stared deep into my eyes and started weeping. He didn’t make a single sound. Just had tears leaking out of his eyes as he stared at me warily. I got him to lay his head on my shoulder and we stayed like that for a while.
As soon as I could, I went back to him today and took him out of the toddler room to walk around the center. I was looking at his arms and legs and noticed dozens of little scars all over him. He has 5 brothers and sisters in the center and I made a beeline for one of the brothers. Enrique told me that they were from their mother hitting him with tree branches when he won’t go to sleep. Unbelievable. When I saw him staring off yesterday, I assumed he was shell shocked from recently arriving in the center and not having his mom or siblings around to care for him. Now I know that chances are good that he’s never, ever had a feeling of safety or security in his life.
He was snuggled close to me for a little over an hour, then the time came that I had to go. I explained to him that I am coming back tomorrow and will get him. Then I put him down. He stared at me as tears filled his eyes. His whole body was stiff as a board, in the same position as when I put him down. Only now had tears streaming down his crumpled little face as he watched me walking away, more tears falling the farther away I got. I felt like I was ripping his little heart out.
Earlier in the week I was talking to my teammate, Lauren, and she said she feels like she’s going to spend this week getting the kids to let her in, just to walk away from them at the end of the week. I now fully understand what she meant. I can explain to the older kids when I’m coming back, and they understand the concept of time. But Angel is old enough to get attached specifically to me, but can’t grasp ‘tomorrow’. What am I going to do when I have to say “I’ll see you in two months.” In the long run, is getting this precious two year old to trust me going to help him or hurt him?
To quote part of Lauren’s amazing and brutally honest blog “Staring back into my eyes, without speaking a word or making a movement, they tell me that their story is more than either of us can bear.”