Working From the Bottom of My Heart
The past two days have continuously shown me the level of need in Cangumbang. It is so overwhelming to me at times how much teaching, and financial support, and attention and pure love the children need. I want to be everything they need, but I am beginning to admit to myself that I can never be enough for them.
I can never wipe away every single tear. I can't cure every illness, or be there to patch up each skinned knee. I can't promise to be there to remind them to take their medicine, or wash their hands before the eat. I can never shampoo their hair each time lice comes back yet again. I can't always be as patient and understanding as they need me to be 24 hours a day. I can never fill their bellies when they have no food, or quench their thirst after a day in the sun. I can't be there to help them with their homework each day, and encourage them to work hard in everything they do.
I am finally realizing in order to fully work in community development and become a trusted support system you have to become a 24 hour, 7 days a week support system filled with resources and most importantly love. I have to admit to myself more recently that I cannot be that perfect support for every child in Cangumbang, and definitely not for every child as needy as each of them all over the world. It is hard for me to accept that I can never be good enough for all of them, and only good enough for some on some days. Instead I need to hope and pray that their parents will be there for them when I am not, and when their parents cannot be there that they will turn to God and find refuge in his 24 hour, 7 days a week, 12 months a year support available to them.
All these things became more apparent to me over the past two days....
On Wednesday I bought materials to collect stool samples from not only my six children but from any other children who's parents wanted them to be tested. I wrote the children's names on the cups and them demonstrated to them how to collect the stool in a sanitary, useful way. They giggled of course but some of the parents and older children observed and assured me they understood what they had to do.
When I brought the materials to the home of my six children, there was already stool or "tae" in the house. Three of the children walked in with me John Joseph the youngest, John Mark, and Josie Rose the oldest. I asked them who's it was and Josie Rose instantly asked John Mark, it clearly was not John Joseph's. At first he said yes, but then blamed John Joseph. I told him it was important we know so we put it in the right cup, not so we could yell at the right person. After a few minutes he finally admitted to his sister that it was his, and he shyly smiled at me from across the room. I told Josie Rose to watch me so she knew what to do when the two little brothers needed her to do it for them. They were both giggling as they watched me. In my head I was thinking, "this is way beyond my job description" but after I thought about it later I decided there really isn't anything NOT in my job description. I would do anything for these children.
Right before I left Jerone, the oldest brother, ran up to me and said "Ate Elsa...Tae ako" to let me know he had something for me to collect. I told him I'd do one more before I left and when I arrived I was oddly pleasantly surprised that he had put plastic down before going to the bathroom, what a smart kid. I left the remaining cups and told them I'd be back in the morning to pick them all up.
On Wednesday afternoon I was also suddenly swarmed with injuries. Rex one of the 7 year old children had a cut on his foot that was really bothering him, which he told me he got from stepping on a nail. I cleaned out the dirt slowly and carefully, however, when I pressed all around the actual wound I could feel the swelling and he told me it hurt all over the bottom of his foot. So I wrapped the cut well with antibiotic safe inside, and gave him some Tylenol to help with the pain. Just as I finished his Nathan, 8, ran in to have me look at his butt. He kept telling me it was painful and when he pulled his shorts down a little I saw he had three sores developing. So I cleaned those and put on some cream before covering them to keep them from becoming irritated. Again right as I finished Mark, 10, ran in with blood dripping down from his skinned knee. So I repeated the process, clean, dry, antibiotic, wrap and tape. All the kids are really good about getting things cleaned, and I am sure to ask frequently if it hurts so they don't fear telling me the next time. And in the end if they refuse to let me look at it then I don't force them.
Today I was reminded of my incompleteness when yet again some of the children came to me with lice in their hair. I found more than 20 eggs in Rex's hair easily and after having me pick them out for a while, he happily agreed to having a shampoo treatment. John Mark also had lice again so I treated him simultaneously. I had already treated his older sister May Joy and little brother Jon Jon on Wednesday, after they bot kept complaining of itching. John Mark and Rex were so silly once the shampoo was in their hair they chased each other around throwing clumps of bubbles at one another and it made me smile to see them enjoy the process with such ease.
I started the day today by collecting 10 stool samples, not from the source but just from the hands of the children who had collected them over night. Jon Jon eagerly changed his clothes when I said I was going to the hospital so he tagged along with me and we had a great time together. I took him to lunch at the normal place I go to have lunch and he ate more than I could believe. It was great to spend time with him and it made me realize more than ever that I would scoop him up and take him in as my own in an instant if he really needed me.
The children are no longer just more faces of children living in poverty from around the world. I see their face and I know their personality, their home environment, and what makes them giggle. I hope that through sharing my stories with all of you, that you too can also see them as individuals. As individual children that deserve recognition and attention, and assistance when they are in need. I love them all so much, I just hope that each day I can be better for them, and help them in more ways than they know they need it.
The construction is moving along well, the walls are coming up and the steel beams are nearly completed. :)