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Don’t overlook the neglected children around us

Eureka Columnist

The yelling and sound of things breaking make her tremble.

She squeezes her eyes closed and prays that it stops – soon. She isn’t afraid of the dark because you can hide in the dark, but she has a feeling that she can’t tonight.

She silently chants – please don’t open my door, please don’t open my door – to no avail. The door flies open and she tries to be perfectly still and pretend to be sleeping. The only thing that gives her away is the lone tear that runs down her cheek. She is trying to think of anything she did wrong – she had tried to be so good – but something has made her mom mad, again, and she is about to pay the price.

It is very heartbreaking to see abused, neglected and abandoned children. It happens more than a lot of people know – ask any medical worker or social worker – in every community.

You can also just watch how children are treated in public – in stores or social settings. The child who is being told to “shut up” and being lifted by one arm to be dragged or pushed down the aisle. The child who asks for food as the parent stands there and eats, but ignores them.

The child who has never been read to, taught manners, or hugged.  The child who flinches when their parent turns towards them. Their big, sad eyes that are full of despair. There is no joy or laughter on their faces. The ill-fitting clothes, the dirty faces, the bruises, the looks of fear, the look of hopelessness.

I was touched by (a very small for her age) little girl during Vacation Bible School one summer. She was dirty and shy, and hungry. I gently washed her face and hands, combed her hair, and got her food. She remained quiet, never making a sound and did not make eye contact. She ate three sandwiches, drank two cups of a fruity drink, and nibbled at a cookie.

She never spoke, but sat quietly and ate, and she and I stayed at the table after the other children had gone to class so she could finish. After she had eaten, as we walked to class, she timidly took my hand and held on tight. That small gesture touched me deeply. By the end of the week, she was smiling a little and playing with the other children.

I know that for a little while she was able to be a carefree child, and to eat until she was full. We made a difference in her life, if only for a week.  I don’t see her anymore and I’m not even sure where she is, but she is forever etched on my heart.

You will not see or hear these children smile or giggle. They are defenseless. They are lonely and alone. Their world is limited and cruel.

Some children never know a kind word, a hug or being made to feel special.  Then, there are the children who are blessed to be “rescued” from their situation.  It sounds strange to say they are being rescued from their home or their parents, but it is true, and it is still heartbreaking for the child, and certainly an uncertain and scary time for them – even if it is helping them.

The kind people who step up and choose to take a troubled, abused or neglected child are angels on earth. They know it will be a very difficult and trying situation, but forge ahead and accept the challenges.

I know a young, kind, Christian couple who have stepped up and opened their home, and their hearts, to a needy child.  Currently, they do not have children of their own, so it is all new to them. This child has many emotional and medical issues that will require patience, kindness, perseverance, hugs, steadfastness and love.

He will have many challenges to overcome – both physical and emotional. It will be a struggle, but I know they are up for it because they chose to be.Their hearts and lives are big enough to want to accept this role, and I am very proud of them, and most certainly thankful they are who they are and that they see a need and want to do something about it.

They prayed that if they were needed that a child would be placed with them, and within a small window of time, that is exactly what happened.  I know there will be tears, frustration, and doubt, but I hope it’s a wonderful blessing for them, and most certainly for this child.

I hope the rewards of seeing the changes, watching him grow, achieve milestones, to be there when he struggles and all done with love and with kindness and with encouragement will make them stronger and a family – just as it should be – no matter how long or short the time they are able to have him live with them.

God always has a plan – we just have to open our hearts and listen, and move forward in faith.  I will pray for each of them. I pray for all the neglected children and I wish they could all be rescued.

If you see a sad child – give them a warm smile – and pray for them – it just might be the only kindness they will ever know.

Write to Pam Bock at bockpam@yahoo.com