Every Thursday afternoon I visit the Haus Clare – a home for unwanted children. It is just up the road from my house opposite the SDA church I attend on Sabbaths. Here children are sent from the police or Social Welfare department to wait to be processed and sent back to parents or a safe place. Many are found on the streets too young to fend for themselves. Others are dropped off at the gate while some are delivered by the police. I go there to read or to be read to. Most of the children are poor readers mainly because of lack of opportunity, love and not being listened to.
They are very responsive to love and attention. Most want to sit close and touch me. They all want to be hugged and kissed. They range from babies to teenagers. Teen girls are there because they have wandered the streets, some have been raped or beaten and others chased way from their homes.
We sit in a community room which Iris and I decorated with paint last year – into a Happy Room. The brightly coloured walls are a reminder that there is beauty in the world and that these children are loved by someone, somewhere. Many children participated in the painting with Iris painstakingly and carefully guiding their hands and hearts. It was a labour of love.
Last week I met Angie. She is only 16 and comes from Goroka. She had only just arrived at Haus Clare. She is there because she had been packed raped by her biological father and his friends. She has grown up with adoptive parents in an Adventist home. That father is short tempered and beats the children when he wants to. She is not able to go outside the gate because her first father is looking to kill her if he finds her. She reported his crime to the police. She asked me for a Great Controversy to read and other Adventist books. She is beautiful, softly spoken and wants to be a lawyer so she can help sort out family problems like she has experienced. How can she ever pursue her dream I wondered?
Daniel is a gentle big boy, just 11 years old. He has been there for a few months and can smile freely now. When he first arrived, he was sullen and frightened and looked very sad. His parents had tried to hang him and the scars were all around his neck and face. He enjoys reading and I encourage him to help the young ones. As I hug and encourage him to trust in God I wonder what will become of him?
Sarah is a small pretty 8 year old girl, mostly full of shy smiles. She cannot read but loves to look at the pictures and speak out the simple words she recognizes. She craves attention and sits very close. Last week she fell over on the gravel and began to cry uncontrollably and loudly. I called her to come and sit on my knee. As I held her tightly she calmed down and although with a sad sullen face, we read a happy story. What parent could resist this beautiful child I wondered?
Every week there is someone new to love and read to. After the reading time they all go to their main meal of the day – usually rice or sweet potato. Their carers know them all by name and do their best to take the place of a parent. Many of the carers themselves come from broken or sad homes.
Every week my heart is broken again as I sit with these precious children and hear some of their stories.
Every week I wish I had a magic wand to fix all their troubles.
Every week I wish I had more money to bestow on their families and provide decent food and housing for them.
Every week I wish I could ease the heartaches of them all – the children, their parents, the helpers, the poor and suffering people in Papua New Guinea.
Unfortunately I don’t have the answers but I can help to bring a little love and friendship where it is so desperately needed.