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Lost and "Found"

Jun. 15, 2015By: Ruth Ohlendorf

For quite some time, I tried finding ways to see someone who left Children’s Shelter of Cebu’s custody in 2007.  He was ten years old when he and his older sister left CSC.  It was everybody’s understanding, according to the agreement between CSC and the mother, that they would all live in the province.  It was not until a while later that we heard they came back to the city.  The sister was taken care of by the mother.  The boy, once again, lived in the same place he had lived before he had come to CSC.  It was hard knowing he would again be left on his own.  

I tried following up on him through his mother and older sister.  I asked many times to meet with him at the office.  For years, his mother did not have nice things to say about him.  The older sister, who was (and still is) under their mother’s care, seemed not to know how he was doing either.  She would only say she did not know what he was up to, or she did not know how he was doing.  She knew, though, that he was still living in the house near the market.  It’s not that she did not care for him, she just did not want to do anything to displease her mother.

I tried for years to get him to come to the yearly outreach Christmas party.  I even resorted to withholding his Christmas gift one year so he would come and get it at the office.  He did not come.  One year, when he was enrolled in grade four at a nearby school, I got him to come see me because I would not give him shoes if he were not the one to come get them.  So, I brought him to the store and got him the shoes and socks.  I even brought him back to the place he called home.  That was the last time I saw him.  

It has been quite some time.  I thought I lost that young boy.  But, God answered prayers.  Early this year, I heard of a place that caters to out-of-school youth that want to better themselves.  I talked, sent text messages, and visited some of CSC’s former kids whom I thought would benefit from the program.  And I sent a message and talked to this boy’s mother, too.  She told me she would tell him about this opportunity.  And praise God, she did!  I was very happy and thankful when he came to see me at the office to talk about the program and what it would mean for him.

I also could not believe it was him when he introduced himself.  The negative reports from the mother had colored my perception of him.  How could a drug-abusing kid look so clean cut and well-mannered as this young man seemed to be?  But I was glad he finally came back.  After all these years, he finally came back!

Now, this seventeen-year-old young man has been in training since the second week of May.  And as part of his training, he is working part time (and earning a half-day’s wage) through the social enterprise project of the organization.  He is also enrolled in the GED-like alternative school.  He hopes to pass the exams to either graduate from high school or to get into the high school level.  He only has a grade four education.  His main goal is to become a Filipino Marine.  He wants to serve his country and at the same time, help his family while doing it.

John Henry still has a long way to go.  Please pray with us for him.

Thank you, Lord, for this little miracle and answered prayers.   

Category: Staff Reflections
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