The story of a little boy

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I met this little boy 6 years ago this past March. We spent a few hours together, and he changed my life forever. I recently found this picture on the computer, and remembered him. I want to share his story again. I could retell the story, but instead I’m going to post the original “journal” I wrote about our day at the daycare when I met him.

 

One of the early days of the trip we visited a day care center for kids who lived in a nearby favela (Portuguese for slum). During the week about 100 kids come to the day care where they are given a warm meal and a chance to get off the streets.
Kids are kids, happy, adorable and absolutely thrilled to see some new people, Americans no less! They loved playing with us, listening to our English and just being together.

Everyone from our group did something different, some people were painting, some were cooking, and some were playing with the kids. I played with the kids, trying to teach them English, but I finally gave up and just read to them. They laughed all the way through Hop on Pop!
There was a little boy there who I fell in love with. He started crying while all the kids were crowded around me, looking at a book. I pulled him over to me, and sat him on my lap. After that, whenever I left he’d find me again; he was my little buddy

After lunch Regina took four of us, Kevin {our pastor} and I included, on a little trip to the home of one of the families whose three girls attend the day care center we were working at. In my somewhat limited mission trip experience, I have never seen poverty like that. It’s impossible to describe, and give it justice. The small house was split into three rooms, where five people lived.
One of the kids from the day care, whose house we visited, came with us. She skipped along the path, thrilled to be able to show us her house. Her mother greeted us at the door, honored to have us visiting her house. She regretted that she had nothing to offer us, Regina {our trip leader} said.

They say the sense of smell is your strongest memory. Never in my life will I forget how that house smelled. It smelled damp, musty and mildewy. I couldn’t imagine waking up every day to a smell like that which would never go away.

In the front room, which was little bigger than a hallway, was a cupboard with a few dishes and a sink overflowing with water. Regina later explained that the water was stolen, and therefore, they could never shut it off, that’s why it was overflowing like that. Either stolen water or nothing, I guess.
The middle room of the house contained a TV, which surprised me, and an ottoman. I thought about nights in their house, with the five of them crowded in that small room, watching TV. Where did they sit? On the damp concrete floor? What about dinner? Did they eat it on their laps, right there? Did they get dinner? Who sat on the ottoman?

The third room was the bedroom. A foam mattress was propped against the wall and a pile of dirty blankets sat in a crib in the corner. In that room slept the parents and three girls. The five of us just barely fit in. I was reminded of the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and how, when I was little, I couldn’t imagine anyone being as poor as Charlie’s family was. But of course, that was fiction. People didn’t really live like that, did they? This family did.

The whole house used to consist of just one room, but they were able to expand it, adding on the other two rooms. Now they thought their house was big.

Kevin prayed for the house and family before we left. The woman could not stop crying, and neither could I. I couldn’t stop thinking about the family that lived in that house, and the little boy I’d met earlier. For the first time I understood the verse in 1 Corinthians 12, “If one part [of the body] suffers every part suffers with it…”

After we left the favela Regina explained that people there are taught to do whatever they can to survive. Kill, steal, whatever. That woman who was so honored that we visited, who regretted that she didn’t have any coffee to offer us, who loves her kids, is forced to prostitute herself to feed her family.
Going back to the daycare with red eyes, I knew what I had to do. Knowing what these kids had to go home to every day I gave them all I had to offer, all I could give. Love and attention.

When it came time to leave it was all I could do not to cry. Even though I had only just met him, I loved that little boy, and every one of those kids. I knew I would never see him again, and yet I also knew I could never forget that little boy, or what I had seen that day.

Mother Theresa put it best when she said, “I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts than there is no hurt, only more love.”
Who am I? I’m not worthy to be thought of so highly and yet she was so glad to have us visit. I came to help, I came to give, and I left fuller than I had come.

 

When we returned to the daycare, I saw it with new eyes. I turned around and Kevin gave me a hug, and I sobbed. I sobbed for the lost childhood of the children there, for the love they were able to show us. For the little boy. I wonder where he is now. He was probably about 4 or 5 when I met him, which makes him 10 or 11 now. Is he still living in the favela? What is he forced to do to survive? I hope and pray that, while it seems nigh impossible, he has been able to move out, and live a better life, he deserves more. They all did.

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About Megg

I'm a 28 year old, newly married, newly living in Washington, librarian trying to find a job in a library. Meanwhile I'm working with kids and spend my afternoons playing Mancala and reading picture books. Come along for the journey as I share recipes, decoration ideas, photos, and hopefully gain some insight from the internet and fellow bloggers.

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