At first the child came looking up, then slowly came near and hugged the leg portion, his height, below the knees. Then with a loving scope he was up on her arms and now he was face to face with her. He touched the nose and mumbled something. He grinned. And the next moment he was resting his little head on her shoulders, hands and arms encircling her neck, longingly, like a child does to his mother.
And so it was for those children who were new. Seven children came a week before the BP Youth Ambassadors’ arrival. Age between three to eight years old, these children were severely neglected and left often on their own. Their parents were poor, separated, and mainly drug-dependents.
Three-year old Daniel loved to be always carried. So did the twins Joshua and Jerome, seven years old, or the sisters Daniela and Danica, eight and six years old. But more so five-year old Jane, who would even fake crying to just be scoped away. Eight-year old Justine, being older, frowned with envy, yet he too had his ways of getting pampered, such as chasing around, or playing basketball.
The Youth Ambassadors (YAs) were just on time to be there for the children. There was no time that an Ambassador was empty-handed. There was always a child around them. When one day, the YAs were getting ready to visit the dumpsite in the city, the child Joshua hurriedly asked, there was a kind of panic in his eyes, “where would they go? Are they living now? Are they coming back?”
Many days laughter echoed at the center. Children being bathed, cleaned, fed. Children running around endlessly. Children carried around tirelessly.
Many times, the children walked around barefooted. Always their housemother asked, “Where are your slippers?”, and the child would say, “I don’t know”. Who needs slippers when every time they were carried, from bed to the dining hall, to the playground and back. It was the ride of a lifetime.
When it came to saying goodbye, that must be the hardest part for the children to do. Parting away with and from those comforting arms. Again, Joshua asked, in tears after they left, “Are they coming back?”. “Yes of course, for sure, I told them. But now they have to go back to their parents, and go to school, and save money to come back. But when they are in Holland, they will think of you, and remember your smile, and they will tell others that you are special”.
Thank you all YAs for giving the children a very good experience of loving and caring. With tears we said goodbye, yet in our hearts, in the children’s hearts, you left a lifelong memory.