Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Araw 28

As today was the first proper day of the holidays, we ate breakfast at 7am, though I still stirred at 5am to hear the older kids rising and showering. Today was fairly uneventful, I slept a lot and the kids played a lot. The older kids got on with the gardening, especially the boys, though I was fairly shocked to find Hill using a machete type knife to chop the banana trees. He seemed confident in its use, though it sent shivers down my spine to see one being used when I knew how such weapons have been used in massacres across the world for centuries. It is an ugly tool to look at.

After morning tea at which I shared out the leftover pack of crisps I had bought when we went to the river, we watched Tangled before lunch. After lunch rested with the younger girls, though I remained asleep even after they left the dorm in the afternoon. I awoke at around 4pm to find that Mamzet and Shine had returned, meaning I was no longer in charge.

Roz came and sat by my bed, and then insisted on cleaning my nails from the nail-varnish we had applied on Saturday. They used a small scalpel like instrument to scape it off rather than nail varnish, but she set to work diligently and carefully while I read a book, even insisting on cleaning ad clipping my toe nails! Roz is a very compassionate child, and I have noticed her watching me and serving me ever since I arrived. She is a new child to me, though she has been here two years, arriving just a month after my last visit.

After she had finished she lay on the bed that had appeared next to mine on the floor and began speaking an asking questions. Before long she told me that her mother and father were dead, killed by 3 men, including a neighbour and her uncle, out of jealousy or revenge for Roz's families plantation or wealth when she was just 7/8 years old. It happened after a disagreement when one of their carabao had destroyed some of the the neighbours crops, and he met not have been contented with the sack of rice Roz' family had paid in compensation.
 I asked if she had any photos of her parents but she did not. I asked if she remembered what they looked like, she said a little. Her dad had a tall nose and her mum was a bit chubby. I asked if she saw her parents being killed and she replied that she had seen her father being 'shot with a stone'. Suddenly I looked into the eyes of this child before me and understood the look of sadness that dwelt in the back of her eyes.

Roz' older siblings, a brother and sister, did not take care of her after her parents died so she was passed around relatives until she came to her Lola (grandfather) who brought her to Joyland. She used to live near Kabankalan, but after her parents were killed she moved in with her sister and boyfriend who didn't feed her enough so she was skinny. She said that she used to steal, as she did my think anything wrong with it, she did not know about Jesus and was only little, but one time her sister caught her and hit her arms and hands. At school the teacher noticed they were swollen and reported it to the DSWD who took Roz away to live with another relative, and her sister moved to Manila.

My heart was filled with so much compassion for Roz as she told me about how she learnt about Jesus and knew it was wrong to steal, and how she had only stolen once at Joyland - some cards to play with. She did not steal any more. I asked if her family ever visited her but the did not. She said that she liked living with her family, and added that she liked it here too. We said she loved to live with Gods family.

I began to wonder of the possibility of reuniting her with her brother, who she said looked like her dad, and after the silence passed between us, she said, "It is sad when your parents die." The tears hung in my eyes, but I held them there as she went on to say that sometimes when she saw others crying she cried too. But sometimes she just got angry, especially when the younger kids did not do as they were told. I wondered how much anger was stored up inside of Roz, even though she was such a compassionate child.

I enquired how much she had told the other kids of her background, knowing that some of the others had had similar experiences, but she said that she didn't like to talk about it. It surprised me then, how willingly she had opened up to me, mostly without prompting, and asked if she had ever spoken about it to Mamzet and Pastor. She said not. I asked if they knew and she shrugged. I wondered how effectively anyone could care for a child such as this without knowing their background, but deduced that her Lola must have explained when he brought her here. I was surprised though, that no one had ever offered her counselling.

A few times after this, some of the other girls came in and interrupted, but Roz only spoke when we were alone. I wondered how many times this week she had wanted to share her story with me. She asked about family, and I told her about my parents. She said I was lucky to have my parents alive, even I they were not together, and I couldn't agree more. Soon the bell rang for dinner, and as Roz walked away I gave her a big hug and repeated again how much I loved her. We spoke no more of our conversation at dinner, and I mentioned it to no-one, but I held her hand at prayers and fought back the tears as I prayed for our loved ones who were not with us, and that God might comfort us this night with his love and strength. When saying goodnight to the kids, I held each one for just a second longer than normal, hoping that something in my love for them might comfort their broken souls from whatever pain lay in their past.
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