Our bear hugger

“Her big round eyes were looking around, like a camera, making snapshots of faces and things. Her forehead knotted, she looked confused and somewhat angry. But when she smiles, she is a gem. Meet our new child-her name is Judith.

She was a street child. Our first meeting was during the Batang Kalye Day with the Youth Ambassadors. Judith could not sit still, looked so confused and kept looking around. When one of own children was saying she has a look-alike in Batang Pinangga and let them meet, Judith said without hesitation, “you are my Ate”. And it was true. Then we knew her story.

Judith was living with an aunt but the mother took her back, but the mother was hurting her every time. Her mother, a scavenger, would leave the girlfor long time on the streets. That was the reason for her rescue. She knew that she has a sister in batang pinangga and longed to be with her one day. Judith is eight years old and never been to school.

Now her life in batang pinangga was a revelation. First time to use spoon and fork, to bath in the shower, to use the toilet. To learn to make friends,to be with other children, to wait for your turn. To know that it is okay when someone touches your things, and not be angry about that, or when someone accidentally touches your arm, no need to be angry either. Children were saying that Judith was very mean, always making fight. They did not like her. Her sister was also saying the same. It was difficult with Judith.

But slowly this has been changing. Now we see her laughing with the other children, playing. She still has that fierce-angry look, but quickly melts into a smile. “Mama”, she called out to report anything. And most special are the big hugs. She gives you a big tight hug, with a big smile, and she stays there beside you, so close together the other children are jealous. Mama Ann loves her bear hugs, a comfort for any given day.

“Do you like it here?” “Yes, and I like to do my chores, and I like my sister, and I am friends with Ate Sam, and I go to school”. That was her conversation with us. Then Mama Siding asked her to set the table.

While we were about to watch a movie, I asked the children, “those who are friends with Judith, raise your hands.” Many hands were quick, others slowly, and then every hand I can see, except for Daniel’s. And there was Judith, sitting so close to Mama Ann, smiling widely.”

– Butch