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Only a Dream

July 29, 2003 ·  By Christina from Spain

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I am in a place in a third world one wonderful, sunny and hot day. I am looking around me and it seems to be that I am in paradise. Palms join the edge of the sea and the wind coming from the seaside caresses them gently. My friend Pedro who is with me says they are already waiting for us. He hadn’t even finished his sentence when I suddenly saw a group of children greeting us very happy. These children bore no comparison with the children of my world, who are usually dressed impeccably, carrying their favorite toys with them. The children I saw did not carry any toys with them and their clothes were not impeccable. Their clothes were the dust of the streets and small shorts covering only the necessary. The only thing that shone on them were their eyes full of happiness, as they knew, that Pastor Pedro and Sister Christina would be with them this afternoon, an afternoon where they will not lack food, joy and affection- things which are so difficult to find in the streets of the town.

We start praying, thanking God for our meal, a practice which in my world nearly doesn’t exist. Afterwards we serve out the favorite food of the children– hamburgers! The shouts of happiness came with the games we played, which at the same time was the icebreaker. All the children were pleased, but there was one of them, who could not laugh.

He was hiding in a corner, away from the other children. His eyes were bright not because of happiness but of the high fever he has. Pedro took my arm and said, “this child needs a doctor, we have to do something, but carefully, for no one should know who we are and why we are here.”

Once finished with the games, we started with the most important part of our meeting. We asked the children about their experience with the police and the social services of the city- a city which prides itself as the Most Child Friendly City of the Philippines. Suddenly the faces of the children changed from happiness to darkness and fear. No one wanted to start. Finally the eldest of them, 15 years old, started, followed by another kid of 10 years. The law of the street is hard, but I did not expect that the police and the social services would treat them worse.

Staring at the floor, they tell us how the police arrest them for crimes like sniffing industrial glue which helps them to forget their hunger for a while. Hitting them with the back of their guns, the police drag them to the police station. Once at the police station, they keep on hitting them until they loose consciousness. Some children were burned with cigarettes as seen from the scars that remain for several months. Others are punched resulting to bruises on the children’s bodies.

The staff of the social services go out at night with their vans to pick up those children who are looking for refuge under the bridges. Like abandoned dogs, they load the kids in their vans and they unload them at their social center, hitting them with everything they can find. Those children, who defend (resist) are thrown immediately into the cells situated in the hidden place in the social center for minors. These cells are 4×2 meters with a hole in the floor as a toilet to relieve oneself and with a bad smell, which no human being can stand for long.

Listening to them, I remember a story from my childhood about a kingdom where the king caught the children to throw them into the dungeon of his castle because he hated children. When I was a child, I was very scared of meeting this king, but my mother held me in her arms telling me, “dont worry, this is only a story, those things don’t happen in real life.”

My eyes were filled up with tears and impotence when I saw David getting up to take a glass of water, feeling dizzy because of the high fever. Pedro and I exchanged looks and without saying a word, we knew, that we had to act now. Together with Nora , a young girl who helped us, I took a bus to bring David to the doctor.

When we arrived, I was just astonished, where is the doctor? I can only see a shop. Nora guided me through a small corridor to the consultancy and I presented myself as Sister Christina who had found this young boy in the street. This boy was very ill and needs immediate blood analysis and medicine. I did not have enough money with me to pay for it. How was that possible I did not have enough money? I was not able to help this poor boy by paying a bill of 10 euros?! I asked Nora to go back to Pedro to get more money and in the meantime I decided to do all necessary analysis to help this child. It’s true, at that moment I hadn’t enough money to pay for it, but it was more important to act at once, the problem of money I would solve afterwards. David had a temperature of 41 degrees Celsius due to pneumonia, but despite that the doctor didn’t want to admit him to the hospital.

I stepped from one unknown situation to another. How is that possible, what are we going to do with this little human being? We leave him once more under the bridge, praying to God that he will take care of him? I trust in God, but I don’t just sit and wait for his help, so we decided to bring him to the hospital.

I never felt comfortable to be white-skinned and therefore different to a lot of other people in the world. But this time it was a good help. When we entered the hospital, a nurse immediately took care of us, but also asked me a lot of questions.

She asked me where I was from, what I was doing here, where I was living, why I had taken care of this street child and so on. I heard a voice inside of me saying, don’t tell them who you are, you could put our mission in danger.

Suddenly I saw all those people around me with suits of Hugo Boss, shirts of Lauren, perfume of Calvin Klein and Rolex watches and I knew that it was easy for me to act and to convince, as the only difference between the “bad boys” in my world and the “bad boys” of this world where I was, were the clothes and the color of the skin. I remembered that I am trained to move myself in difficult situations, guiding the conversation in my direction the way that others don’t even notice.

After this we put David in the hospital and onto a bed and the doctor did not lose any time in giving him the necessary injections to lower the fever and in this way fight the pneumonia. David half-conscious took my hand, begging me and repeating all the time, “Sister Christina, don’t send me to the OCARE (the social service center), please, promise me.” Pressing his hand I answered him, “I won’t do that, I promise you, I won’t do that.”

Like in a dream

Suddenly a constant and unpleasant noise made me fall into a dark hole. It was like traveling through time and space. When I opened my eyes, I saw my two dogs in my bed, licking my face. It’s seven o’clock in the morning and my alarm clock welcomes me unpleasantly, as every morning. The sun shines through my window and encourages me to get up. A brilliant day welcomes me, in a world far away from David- but something inside me has changed.

I am thinking about this unjust world, where NGOS are working very hard, each of them putting their lives in danger to save children like David and I ask myself, “what can I do other than just feel pity?” I have to change something in my life, spending at least some time to help those people with this fight, but how?

Once more I hear this voice inside of me saying, there are a lot of ways and situations which suddenly will come to you. The only thing you have to do is to be more sensitive and to listen, when they call you, although its not convenient for you at that moment.

If every second person in the world would do a charitable action once a week for other people, our world would change greatly and would become full of light, a light which would shine far across the universe. And this, friends, is my dream.

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