Lining for Food | Tondo, Manila | 25 Jan 14
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You've seen it many times on TV. The garbage, the filth, and the innocent eyes of children staring back at the camera. It breaks the heart each time these images are flashed on TV. But when you are there and then you see and smell and hold them, it will break your heart again -- into hundreds of pieces -- a piece for each child you encounter.
Last Saturday's experience reminded me so much of a time when I brought a street kid home to live with us. I didn't even ask permission from my Mom. I just let him live with us. (Ok, I was a crazy kid to do something like that. Haha). I cleaned him up and told him we'd send him to school. I saw so much potential in him and found it such a waste that he was always in the streets.
He lived with us for almost a month until his parents got him back. My sister Binky remembered that day vividly and told me: "You cried a lot when his parents picked him up. You cried for an entire week."
So last Saturday, when we got to the site, I trod lightly. I scanned everyone's faces first. I waited for a few minutes before I started mingling with them, perhaps, to remind myself not to be too attached because certainly, I cannot take any of them home with me.
But you cannot really resist them once they start smiling at you. Sipon dripping from their noses and some haven't even taken a bath and yet, you have the urge to hug them. And then they touch you and hug you and show you their work, your heart melts and you cry inside a little.
And although I have seen places and situations like this many times in my life (started volunteering since high school back in Cebu), I never got used to the pain. My heart still breaks every time.
And at each visit to places like this, the same truth remains -- these children give you more than what you give them at that moment. They give you perspective. And gratitude. And inspiration.