What you do not know is that two years ago he was broken.
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This afternoon, I sat in the crowd and watched five of my children proudly walk across the stage to accept their diploma commemorating their graduation from Grade 6.
This is a huge event in the life of a Filipino child because for so many children, it is a struggle to attend school daily, never mind to complete 6 years of education.
By the Grace of God, these 5 did it and the announcer’s voice roared their names across the speaker. I was taken aback by how straight and tall he stood before the long line of hands to shake. Department Heads, teachers, and a famous politician who he did not know, shook his hand and patted his shoulder saying, ‘Good Job, Boy’.
And I think if I could have one minute of that man’s time, I would have something to say.
Yes, sir, they have done a good job. And yes, they have graduated. But…
What you do not know sir, is that the young man in front of you, was once a little boy in torn, dirty, shorts, barefoot, hungry, unbathed, angry, and very confused. His mother dead, and his father jailed, he was unwanted by relatives and he was frightened.
And what you do not know, sir, is that the beauty in front of you, cried for months straight when she first came to us; the grief, horror, and unexpected relief from her life of pain, almost too much to bear. She was devastated.
And what you do not know, is that the young man before you, was orphaned by Yolanda; the effect of the trauma almost destroying his mind. For months, the nights were haunted by
memories, fear, grief, and terror. He was nearly out of his mind.
And sir? What you do not know is that until just two weeks ago, that shy, young woman shaking your hand, was hopeless. No uniform, no lunch money, no school supplies, yet for the last year she has attended school. Four years older than all her classmates, she was determined to finish, knowing that in this culture, education is her only hope. She was alone.
And what you do not know, only two weeks ago, did my own girl bring that frightened young girl home to me. Mom, we need to help her, she pleaded. She is all along. My girl; her own little life fragmented by abuse, but her spirit resilient and strong, healed.
Maybe when you carry such wounds, you see them more easily in others.
The young girl’s story was familiar. Abandoned by a cruel mother and left to her father who beat her and did things that fathers should never do to their daughters. Sometimes she would sleep in the park, not even a peso in her pocket. Sometimes, she was okay. Sometimes she just wandered the streets, avoiding going home.
When we came tonight, we walked to the gate of the school, and her eyes filled with tears. I cannot imagine her feelings as she saw all her classmates with their parents, standing proud, in the line up.
Sometimes she would sleep in the park, not even a peso in her pocket. Sometimes, she was okay. Sometimes she just wandered the streets, avoiding going home.
But sir, that you do not know.
And what you also do not know is that despite all odds, despite a very persistent and determined enemy, that despite abuse, abandonment, and being orphaned, they stand.
How these five came into our care is undoubtedly the Hand of God.
How they have grieved, healed, and grown is nothing less than a miracle from above.
And the resilience, beauty and hope that is real and alive in their lives, is only the work of the spirit of a Living God.
And the plans, the awesome plans of a Great God, are for them to prosper, to not be harmed, and for them to have a hope and a future.
And that, sir, you should know.