I saved my ketchup, too, for him. Every time he saw me asked for it. "Kuya, ketsap". He knocked on my door early in the morning to ask for it, as I have promised. With me was the ketchup from McDonalds. "Kuya, dili man ni mao!". (Kuya, this is not the one!). I realized then that I was not helping him move on. He was no longer a street child.
Meet Garen, our ketsap boy. He was raised in the slums and lived on the streets from the moment he learned to walk. On his early days at the Center, he was always crying. One single joke from the other children, or even an unintentional brush of his skin, could bring him to tears. Often he pouts his lips if angry, sad, or when in a bad mood, which earned him more teasing. And more tears.
One day I sat beside him with my guitar and we started singing his streets songs. Holding my hand, Garen brought me to his world. He was afraid to go home. He was afraid of his stepfather. "Berdugo man to, Kuya bunalan ko pirmi." (He was a monster, beats me up every time). Garen recalled that his stepfather sent him off to buy ice, but all the ice were sold. He returned with no ice; his stepfather got angry and beat him hard. I asked him about his mother. He remembered having different men in the house.
I looked at this little boy, barely seven years old, enduring so much pain. In his world, he only knew of monsters; he saw them with sharp claws. He runs fast and farther away, always looking behind afraid that the monster would catch up with him.
Let us help Garen stop the monster. If you find him hug him close. Make him feel safe in your presence. BC