Perhaps a child’s greatest fear is abandonment. It’s like an abyss with no end while the child cries endlessly– calling out, calling out for dad and mom, searching for dad and mom till he drifts off to sleep, as the last tear dries up on his cheeks. This scenario is repeated over and over in an abandoned child’s life, till the screams get muffled as he grows up because he tries to hide it within. But nonetheless it’s like wearing headphones with noise canceling features—you hear nothing outside but it’s all rocking loud inside.
Jeff (not his real name), 16 years old was a street kid when we met him. He is one of the street kids we counseled through our Goshen Land Caring Hands program. Jeff stopped school and without rhyme nor reason he just ran away from home and joined a group of kids living on Baguio’s streets, surviving on garbage and sometimes stealing. He sleeps with his group of street kids on the cold pavement or inside the cleaned foyer of a public pay comfort room. He once told us he doesn’t like to go home, as he seems to enjoy the constant presence of his street kid peers. He dreams to become a pilot someday so we encouraged him to go back home and study again. He listened and when he came back as a Goshen Land scholar, he told us a salient part of his story that he never told anyone: his mother left him when he was a little boy, in the guise of doing an errand. “Hindi na siya bumalik,” said Jeff, trying to hide the longing of a son of what might have been, had the mom chose to nurture him, instead of growing up with the influences on the streets.
Carlos (not his real name), 16 years old, is now a fourth year highschool student at Baguio City National High School (BCNHS). He is now one of Cordillera Goshen Land Football Club’s (CGFC) most improved players in terms of character, academics, and team leadership. But it was a long, arduous journey akin to tug of war. His motivation to study seems to always wane, his anger even against small matters flares up no matter who is watching him, he is never focused and never wanted to move forward with his grades. He doesn’t really care if he passes or not. During a crisis he went through last year, we encouraged him in a counseling session not to give up and instead work with us to find solutions to it. Known to have a volcanic temper even against his teammates, Carlos, for the first time starts to cry, saying his mother abandoned him when he was three while he never knew his dad. “Umalis si mama na walang paalam,” said Carlos, his tough exterior giving way to his tears from years of hurt and rejection.
Many times, we have no answers to all the questions of why of children. Yes, it’s easy to say it’s caused by the sins of the parents but it’s hard and heartbreaking even to listen to kids talk about their hurts. Many times, crying with them eases the pain. As parents ourselves, we are no experts on how to deal with the hurt of abandonment in a child’s heart. But we know and trust that the God who knitted these kids in their mother’s wombs will see them through. He will hold their hands when they are afraid and calm their fears. He is a father to the fatherless, nurturer and protector. He will heal and bind their wounds.***Annabelle Bangsoy