There was once a boy who was saved from an abusive stepfather. He had no home, as they lived only in a shanty on a pavement. He was five years old when he came to Batang Pinangga. He struggled to survive, to understand, to accept, and be accepted.
He was hard on the others. He was hard on himself. His houseparents tried their best to let him know that he is important. His teachers were afraid of his violet tantrums. His classmates wanted to win his favor, for he is stronger and can be intimidating.
That is our boy Garen. He has a tough image yet a lot of friends. He is one special child for us: very artistic, honest, hard-working, but has very low self-esteem.
Into his final year in elementary school, his teachers said that Garen has difficulty coping up with his lessons. But he was trying his best. They were practicing for the graduation rites, and Garen already told: I will never go up the stage. Every year he got awarded as artist of the year but he never showed up. He said he was too shy. His teacher would call on him repeatedly for she knew he was just around listening.
His houseparents prepared his clothes: long pants, shiny shoes, white shirt, white toga. The day came, the sound system was on, and all were prepared to go to witness the ceremony. But Garen was still on his house shorts. “Are you going?”. He said yes. Hurry, hurry, hurry.
At the venue, he did not know where his toga was. The parents and the graduates were in line for the processional march, but Garen was missing. He said he went to pee. He complained that the shoes were tight. “Just be here, it won’t take long”, I said.
While the program was ongoing, he stood up another time to pee. And slowly he relaxed, sitting there with his classmates. As his named was called, he promptly went to the stage, smiled, and marched on triumphantly. It was a happy sight.
Back to the compound of Batang Pinangga, the celebration started. The other children were barefoot again but Garen walked on with his shiny black shoes, wearing a smile. It was his look that was so impressive. He was glowing from within.
That helpless boy, now grown-up, beams with life and pride.
Now we know why we are happy. We share this happiness with all of you who care for children like Garen.