Monday, May 16, 2005

In the End

This will likely be my last email from Honduras. I will be heading to San Pedro in the morning. I plan on staying overnight in a hotel so I can decontaminate and grab a few hours of R&R prior to departure.

Over the past few days we've been working hard to tie up loose ends. A few of them simple, like, getting the curtains up where the children sleep to keep out some of the cold night time mountain air, completing the 30 little foam beds and burning the old ones. We also needed to de-lice the kids one last time which includes convincing the teenagers that having lice is not a fashion fad so they better start using the cream I gave them 2 weeks ago or else!

Then the few loose ends not so simple....

There is a woman living here in the tragedy of her own life and still allowing it to cloud her soul with anger, bitterness and contempt. She was married at a young age and bore 7 children. Her Husband had run away early in their marriage, for a brief time which resulted in an illegitimate daughter. Over the next several years he would beat his wife with in inches of her life on multiple occasions. His cruelty did not cease with his wife. Their youngest son was a mute. He ordered his wife to lock him up in a shed behind their hut and starve him to death. She could not. She would sneak away in the darkness and slide him food when ever possible. The man became extremely frustrated that this kid wouldn’t die, he felt they were too poor to care for such "waste". He eventually gave up after 4 years and released the child. His alternative means of decreasing the grocery bill was to shoot the oldest child and fracture the skull of the middle child. Quickly cutting the bill by 2/7ths. With the death of the children and the distance it placed between himself and his wife he decided to take his illegitimate daughter into his home as a trained concubine. With fear of her life and that of her remaining children his wife never left. One day the illegitimate daughter escaped to our orphanage. She was quickly found by this barbaric man and he took her back up into the mountains. It was this event that finally freed his wife. She learned of the orphanage through the illegitimate girl and believed it could provide her and her children shelter. She left in the night with no clothes or food and the 5 remaining children. She left the illegitimate child behind. I relate this story because we have been trying to pick up the pieces for her and get her back on track. It is certainly not simple and she too has hostile behavior which I can only assume is learned. We have been running interference for her children to prevent beatings or undue harm. It's not like the US where you can just call child protective. This story is sadly not so unique here. The poverty resulting in social decline that brutally demoralize a society, a culture, a family, a child, reigns supreme here in the hills…... This, a loose end I can not tie up, will haunt me.

Behind a locked door some weeks ago I spoke of the clothes and the old blankets that I found. I did not speak of the children I found. Two children had been being kept under lock and key by their mother when she worked on the plantel during the day. No one knew. It was terrifying and tragic. The good news is they seem no worse for wear at first glance but the reality of the torment will not be evident for years to come. We have been working on this as well. Again, years of mistreatment handed down through time is not an enemy easily defeated.

Now, after 30 short days, I have found pockets of peace and joy scattered amongst the rubble of a poor poverty stricken community forgotten by everyone except God. I have grown to love these children for what they are, at complete face value. I will not forget the lessons they have taught me...... the power of loss and strength, pride and community, hunger and heartbreak, need and want, desire and disappointment combined with the overwhelming ability of the human soul to find happiness in the face of a living hell. More importantly though I've learned about humility, my humility.

In time the names will be lost from recent memory, the building layout will seem foggy to my recollection and yes, I will forget about the bugs, but a piece of my heart will always be home......somewhere in Honduras.....

Thank you God and all of those who have walked with me through this enchanting time.....


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