Monday, October 1, 2012

BR-458 House visits, Thursday September 27, 2012

During the day we were able to visit the houses and meet the families of Jessica and Christian. Both were within walking distance, so our merry little band set out in the lovely baking sun: me, the three kids, Jessica’s sister Gisele, translator Isabela and project worker Victor.

Jessica’s house was our first stop. She lives with her mother Jacqueline, father Rogerio, sister Gisele and baby brother Joao (sort of like our equivalent of John). Jacqueline earns a living by stitching and embroidering patterns on bras and undies. There were several boxes full around the house, so she must be busy. She is able to work from home, so this helps her look after Joao. Their living conditions seem perilous and quite poor. I am happy to be able to help them through my sponsorship.

The family has a dog and a cat. They are joined in surrounding houses by relatives and extended family. We were joined on our visit by five or six young cousins, some only in their underwear, which at a guess was probably not by choice. Jessica seemed quiet and shy, but also cheerful and sweet.

Next stop was Christian. He was a great little guy! He was definitely the most open and expressive of the three. He radiated excitement and energy. He LOVED the Australian football. When we went to his house he showed it to his relatives and they scratched their heads and looked at it for about 20 seconds.

I also taught him the correct way to say “footy”, that is, “oo” as in book and pronounce the “t” as a “d”, so it becomes “foody”. He kept saying it over and over again! Classic :) One thing I noticed was he was very receptive to the things of God and the Bible. When we were at Jessica’s house, they were asked what their favourite bible story was, and 8 y.o. Christian came out with Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, and proceeded to recount it!? That’s a pretty intense favourite Bible story.

He is an only child, and up until recently lived with his mother Ana Cristina, grandparents Valda and Daniel and uncle Antonio – not exactly a nuclear family. However, apparently just last week his mother got married to his father (surely that can only be a good thing?), and they just moved into their own house. Hopefully this can lead to a stable home environment for Christian to grow up in. So the house we visited was the grandparent’s house where they lived until last week.

Christian’s grandpa Daniel had injured his hand/wrist/arm after being hit by a car, and it was all curled up so his hand was pointing to the sky. They told us that the driver was never brought to justice. I could tell this wounded them because I ‘m not sure if he worked, but it prevented him from working.

Christian’s mother makes money by recycling materials and selling them on to a guy. She doesn’t have set work hours, but just finds and collects things wherever she is going. One of the walls of the grandparents house was piled high with plastic bottles.

We weren’t able to visit Ana Cristina’s house, because they live in a different area. Cristina’s uncle was killed in drug-related circumstances. Another uncle went and killed a member of the opposing group. As a result, the whole family had to move away for their own safety. Cristina’s older sisters look after her when her parents are working. Because they live in a different area, and there is no Project in the area where she lives, Cristina only makes it to the Compassion Project about once a week. She is picked up by Victor, one of the Project workers. There are so many stories like that that are never told – the Project staff care for the kids and families and regularly sacrifice and go the extra mile for them. I made sure I thanked Victor for looking after my girl.

Normally she would be forced to depart the program, but they have made an exception for this family because of the relationship I have formed with her and because of the visit. I learned that the family were just about to pull her out, then they found out I was coming to visit and decided to let her keep coming! That blew me away and made me feel so humble and thankful.
Sponsors: It is worth putting extra time and effort into writing to and praying for your kids! God rewards it!!
As much as I am hoping that Cristina stays in the Project, I know I need to accept her inevitable departure sooner or later. I am aware that grudges over drug-related deaths don’t just disappear, so it will be a long time before the family feels safe coming back to the area.

For the two home visits we were joined by all three kids, plus Jessica’s sister Gisele. Jessica and Christian are both 8, Gisele is 10 and Cristina is 12. One thing I LOVED seeing was the way the four of them interacted with each other. We had a 15 minute walk to each house, though unpaved and dangerous streets with rubbish and sewage everywhere, stray cats and dogs running around and motorbikes whizzing past. I marvelled at how they wandered along, seemingly without a care in the world, chatting and laughing with each other, Christian playing with (and frequently dropping) the football.

Cristina took on a bit of a mother role, reminding the others to stay to the side of the road if they strayed too far to middle. It was particularly precious seeing Jessica and Cristina walking along holding hands, and during the home visits Jessica would sit on Cristina’s lap. It was a relief to me to see that there was not hint of jealousy or competition between the kids. This showed me that they were secure in the knowledge that I loved them the same. 

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