Elvira and Angel Joseph
I just spent an hour or so with a young woman named Elvira. She is 22 years old and has a three-year-old son named Angel Joseph. She ran away from her humble home last night after the father of her child and his friend beat her.
Her sister, Anita, is living in our crisis center so Elvira knew that this would be a safe place to come. She showed up at 2:30 this morning with blood running from her nose and a swollen lip. Her shoulder is bruised and her lower back and abdomen are to tender to touch. While she lay on the ground the men kicked her in the back and stomach while Angel watched. As soon as she had opportunity she scooped up her baby boy and ran into the night with the clothes on her back and a traumatized child in her arms.
This morning Octavio, our driver, brought her to the office and now we know her story. I know that this kind of violence happens in every country of the world. Silent, helpless victims go to bed each night weighing the alternatives. The difference between Elvira and all the others is that she is here now.
Questions whirl in the frantic mind of a young mother. Where will I go? Will he find me if I run? Will he hurt my baby next time? How will I support the two of us if we leave? These are the very questions that Elvira asked herself the last two times she was beaten. This time she had the courage to go.
During the initial interview process tears trickled down the cheeks of this frightened girl. Nobody wants to admit that the very person you fell in love and lived with for three years is now the person that brings shame, humiliation and physical abuse into your home.
Baby Angel is quiet. He is a big boy for a three year old, and has a solid stature. His hair is silky black and almost reaches the middle of his back. He showed no fear of me whatsoever and laughed while I counted his ribs. He plays with a stuffed gorilla that I found in the donation box and agreed to sit on my lap for a few minutes while we talked. Eventually he decides to explore the rest of the office and silently slides to the floor.
The MSN light flashes on my computer behind me. It is Sandi from our home in Idaho. She wants to wish me a happy Easter and says that she wishes we could be together on this holiday. I told her that I felt the same and that I wish she were here right now to help me explain to this young mother that we really had no room in our facility until the new building was finished and we don't really have the money to support the girls and babies that we already have.
I told Sandi her situation and an instant message came back that said, "squeeze her in."
Elvira dropped her head and wiped her eyes when I told her we would take her back to Santa Thomas. We agree that they can stay at our facility while we figure out what can be done long term.
Our next task was to find some clothes for mother and child. This was fun and easy. Her eyes lit up as we searched through the trunks marked "women’s" and "boys, 2 and over." Our supply is good right now as all five recent groups had left us with donated items. Elvira steadied herself against my shoulder as she struggle to try on a pair of jeans. Her lower back showed bruising and she lifted up the back of her shirt trying to explain that it hurt to stand on one foot. We helped slip the pant leg over her foot as she tried several items on, over her faded knee-length stretch pants.
Judy, a volunteer nurse practitioner from Raymond, WA, gave Elvira a complete examination. Her concern is the blood in her urine and the extent of the potential damage to bruised kidneys. We will follow up with tests tomorrow and vigilant observation to insure that no permanent damage was done internally.
This is just the beginning of this story. I am asking for your prayers as we seek wisdom in dealing with Elvira, baby Angel and every case that comes our way. We have no formula or flow chart. Each girl comes with a unique set of circumstances and at times the complexities are overwhelming.
This one thing I do know. At least for now there is a young mother and little baby boy who will sleep in safety tonight and while the world chases bunny rabbits and searches for chocolate eggs, the real reason for this season is once again pressed upon me. We have a friend who was raised from the grave to give us a chance to live. Jesus Christ demonstrated a re-birth that symbolized a new beginning for each of us. My prayer is that while Elvira and Angel make a new start, you and I will take a moment to reflect on the blessings that we have been given.
The day is dawning when no more tears will fall, little boys won't witness violence inflicted on the people they love and young mothers won't run blindly into the night. In the mean time, we will continue to do what we can. We need your help to continue this work. Please, don't forget us.
Happy Easter and God bless you and your family.