Friendly, soft-spoken, happy, smart, and especially caring. Only good things could be said about this nine-year old boy, rare qualities for someone who grew up in the slums, in a home environment where parents quarrel often and food was rationed among a dozen siblings.
Michael is our new hero. As the sixth child among 12 siblings, the boy looked after his little brothers and sisters instead of attending school. He pitied his mother, who tried hard to work for anything so that they could have food. There was no breakfast or lunch or dinner on the table, because food did not come on time. Breakfast could be lunch, or dinner could just be forgotten. His older siblings were not staying home; they were on the streets trying to survive.
But Michael stayed home and cared for his younger brothers and sisters. He also helped his mother earned a little money by collecting garbage, and asking from the stores in the market for left-over food. He was proud to do that. On his way to the city joining the other children for an outing, looking outside the car window, Michael saw his familiar streets again. He pinpointed the store which was friendly to him and allowed him a shed from the afternoon sun. He saw the garbage bin overflowing with huge empty boxes and proudly said, “I could fold that box easily and put it in my sack”. Looking around in silence as the car went through, then he said, “I miss this street very much; I have a lot of friends here who pitied me and gave me money and food.”
Now Michael goes to school, is always smiling and very friendly. He still looks after his siblings and comes to their rescue when they cry or are in trouble. He likes it in Batang Pinangga. When one new child did not go home to the shelter he was the first one who came looking for him, because he wanted all children to be together, like family. He is always quick in saying thank you to everything he got. A grateful heart in spite of great troubles and sorrows, an enviable gift present in Batang Pinangga.