It was a little more than four years ago that Carine came to live at the Lar Batista orphanage, she was eight years old. Not unlike many of the girls who come to the Lar, Carine had a family whom she lived with, but because of attempted abuse by her mother’s boyfriend, the courts ordered her to live at the Lar. Even though she was not getting a good public education while staying at the Lar, she was receiving great care. She had three meals a day, new friends, a safe environment off of the violent city streets, and love from the ladies who work there in the orphanage.
I still remember meeting her on my first trip to the Lar. She was eleven years old, very outgoing, full of life and joy. She was usually the one organizing a game for all of us to play, and she loved trying to play my guitar. I was so excited when we finally formed Love Rescues because I knew that she would now be able to receive a great education that would help to keep her from going back to the lifestyle she had been rescued from.
You can imagine my disappointment when I saw the list of girls who would be enrolling into the new school and her name was missing. I immediately began to ask questions and the answers were horrifying me. I found out that the same court that took this eight year old girl out of her home because of an abusive situation had now placed her back into that same environment. Only now, she was not an eight year old child – she was an almost thirteen year old young lady.
On my last trip in March I made it a point to visit Carine in her home. I drove down the narrow streets into a neighborhood that was infested with drugs and violence, until I finally reached my destination . As she came out to greet me her once joyful face was replaced with a halfhearted, forced smile. As we talked I found out that her mom’s boyfriend was still causing trouble. On the weekends he would get drunk and stand outside her window cursing and threatening her. She had been snatched from a place of safety and forced to live in conditions that made her fear for her life. She wanted so badly to return to the Lar, but her mother and the courts said, “No”.
After leaving her house, the next day I went to the Judge’s office and reported what I had seen. As I plead my case to have Carine placed back into the Lar, I was finally told that it was the child’s responsibility to go before the Judge and tell him of her living conditions. Once again, I couldn’t believe how broken this judicial system is to force a child to accuse her mother’s boyfriend. Especially after he has already threatened her.
I went back to Carine’s home and told her of the courts decision. As I left Maceió the next day I prayed and hoped that Carine would make the right decision so that she could move back into the Lar and begin receiving a quality education for the first time in her life.
Not long after I made it back to the States I received news that Carine is now back at the Lar and has enrolled in her new school. While I was in Brazil fighting for this child’s future, I was not alone. Each of you were there fighting with me. Because of your support, Carine has been given a second chance at a new life. That’s why we say we’re bringing love, fighting poverty, together. Thank you for partnering with us.
“When love meets action, lives change.”
Before making my latest trek to Brazil I was informed that several of the girls who were once at the orphanage had been placed back into their homes, or the home of a family member. On the surface, one would think that it is a good thing for these girls to move in with family members, but that is not always the case. So I made a point to visit some of these girls who had been ordered by the court to leave the orphanage and live with their family.
My concerns were confirmed when I visited the home of one of the girls who had been taken from the safety of the orphanage and placed into a home that was located in the most violent neighborhood in town. As I walked down the narrow dirt roads leading to her house, I asked her if she was happy to be living there. “Yes,” she replied, “because I’m living with family.” I could definitely understand why she would feel that way. I think that any child would rather live with family than in an orphanage. Then I asked a follow up question. “Are you going to school?” “No.” she replied.
At that point we had made it to the front door of her home where we were greeted by her aunt. We were graciously invited in to sit and visit. As we talked, I asked why this child was not attending school. Her aunt told me that because she was almost thirteen years old and only in the second grade, the school would not take her because she was too old for that grade. As we continued to talk, her aunt made it clear that she no longer wanted this child to live with her. Not because she didn’t love her, but because she was on a fixed income and was struggling to provide for her. All of this was being said right in front of this child. My heart was broken as I imagined how hard it must be for this child to listen to her own family speak of how much of a burden she was on them.
After visiting for a while longer I asked if the child could show me around the neighborhood. I wanted to see the conditions that she faced on a daily basis. The aunt told me that it would not be safe because I wasn’t from there. So I decided to heed her warning.
As I left from that place I walked away feeling so frustrated with the legal system there in Maceió. Here was a child that was taken from a place of safety where she would be provided with a great education, and she was ordered to live in a place where she is unwanted. A place that is extremely violent, where the only education she receives is learned in the streets. Without an intervention, this beautiful child will slip through the cracks to become another statistic. But we are trying to intervene.
Please pray that we can get this child back into the orphanage where she will receive the love, security, and education that she deserves.
“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” – Mother Teresa
One week from today, on March 17, I will be boarding an airplane for Maceió. Maceió is the capital and the largest city of the coastal state Alagoas, Brazil, as well as the home for the Lar Batista Marcolina Magalhães orphanage that we support. Known for its beautiful beaches, lively culture, and great food, Maceió has much to offer tourists who are looking for a great tropical vacation. However, if one were to deviate from the normal tourist attractions, it wouldn’t take long to see a darker, less glamorized side of the city. Beautiful beaches with emerald green water would turn to littered dirt roads with streams of open sewage. Beach cabanas and high-rise apartments would be replaced with favelas (slums) and less than moderate homes guarded by high walls and locked gates. Instead of the latest designer wardrobe, dirty bare feet and worn out clothes would be the norm. But this is the Maceió that I have fallen in love with. These are the people that I want to serve.
As I travel to Maceió I would love to go knowing that I have an army of prayer warriors interceding for those whom I will be meeting. Praying that God will prepare the way before me. That He will open hearts to receive the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That he will redeem these people from their sin and rescue them from poverty. Will you partner with me through prayer?
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” – Matthew 9:35-38