our kids

We found our kids! On Friday we stopped by after our caroling excursion to check in on Minerva and Alvaro. We were also able to meet, for the first time, their three younger siblings.
"Tio" found them a couple nights before and reported their living conditions to me. He wanted to prepare me ahead of time for how they were living. He choked up as he told me that they lived in a tiny, cold, filthy, fly and rodent infested shack. They sleep on a damp mattress on a dirt floor. 5 kids, their mom and her boyfriend.
Nothing really prepared me to see these beautiful children in their "home". I can't even describe to you the inside of the house. All I can say is it makes the outside appear nice. The whole property is on the slope of a hill and I can't imagine what their floor looked like during last weeks rains.
They were thrilled when their Tio showed up in his car though....that someone cared enough about them to come find them. He said he'd never had hugs so tight or seen smiles so big.
I hesitate to even write about their home because I feel somehow I am betraying my sweet Minerva who deserves so much more. I was nothing but smiles and positive words while I was there. I would never let her see my heart breaking as I look at her home. I could tell she was embarrased and that killed me. The home she works so hard to keep. She cooks, she cleans and she cares for her siblings.

We have now visted them twice. Once while the mom and boyfriend were there, and this morning while just the kids were there.

Our beautiful and kindhearted Alvaro. You can see Romans soccer ball next to the house.
They don't even have a wash board. She washes all their clothes on a piece of broken cement set on top of a stack of tires. What a hard life. All the things we take for granted. Running water, hot water, a fridge, a floor in our house, beds, rooms, toys, food, a bathroom, showers, clean water, clean clothes. So much we don't even think to appreciate. So much this family lives without.

Minerva (right in pink) with her little brother Ramiro , sister Louisa and her mom. That boy is gorgeous! The biggest smile I have ever seen on a child.

Ramiro and Carmela. They are the sweetest kids. These two soaked up the attention. I sat myself in the dirt and these two both snuggled up on my lap. They just about started purring as I hugged them, caressed their hair and rubbed their backs. They were like little affection sponges.

This morning I came with some bags of food and some sweaters dug out of my kids cupboards. It gets cold here at night this time of year. It gets down to just a few degrees above freezing and it's a damp ocean air cold too. At night we all wear our fleece sweaters, pile on the blankets and turn on our propane trailer furnace to 15 degrees c. Last night I could hardly sleep thinking about those kids huddled up in the dirt. I laid awake thinking about which blankets I could spare, which sweaters my kids didn't need and what food I could take from my cupboards.

We are hoping to build the kids a better home before we leave. We have started looking into what it would take and getting the neccesary land information and documents. I wish I could pack them all up and bring them home with me this spring, but since running two different borders with 5 kids would be illegal, we will have to settle for doing our best by them while we are here.

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