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