August-December '04  






I had a great welcome home the house was decorated and many of the villagers were waiting for me to arrive.
Patricia and the puppies went crazy to see me. I was surprised that they remembered me….
The puppies that is not Patricia… as they were very young when I went home.

My first few days back were very busy catching up with all the news.
It seems there were great problems with Rommel (the malnourished and abused street child I took in).
Somehow he managed to get in to our store on several occasions, and of course helped himself…
seems it took a long time before they realized what he was doing.
Anyway he and Patricia fought so much that he left and took all his things with him.
To be honest I am not too sad he was rather a handful.

The first job in the house to do was to get a ceiling fitted…
The galvanized tin roof makes it like an oven in the house.
If you ever want to know what a baked bean feels like come and stay here for a few days… hehehe

I spent the first two weeks trying to sort out the store accounts. I really don’t know how they managed to survive here!
Before I went home I gave Clara my assistant, a list of all the expenses to be paid and money to pay for them.
I told her that she should continue to take the profit from the shop,
for food and I left an allowance to top it up.
Every item sold in the shop daily is listed along with the profit.
So it is not difficult to work out the daily/weekly profit.
However it seemed too difficult for Clara.
As she did not take any profit and just managed to live on the top up allowance!
Goodness knows how they managed!
I think they just lived on vegetables from the garden!
It seems that trying to work out the profit was not the only problem she had with the shop accounts.
They also managed to loose a considerable amount of the capital.
I don’t think it was through dishonesty,
Clara is very honest. I just think she finds figures difficult.
For example one of our most popular lines had increased it price by 3 pesos,
but she had not increased our selling price…
We were paying more than we charged the customers…. No wonder we lost money!!!
Never mind it’s good I now know that the books are my job along with the hundred others!

During my first week, I met Cinderella (one of the family I have been looking after) in the market begging.
I fed her of course, along with several other street children.
They were so happy to see mama Nickie home.
It means that now they are sure when they see me in Santiago they are assured of a hot meal.
Cinderella told me that Bullet and Jenny (Bullet is the child who were dying of malnutrition in January)
were still in the market and don’t go home very often, because Rommel their brother was there and would box them!
Unbelievable the social services here.
How many times have they promised that they would take them into care!
Here we go again and again and again….
I told Cinderella to bring them with her next Monday and hopefully by then I will have been able to sort something out.
I went to visit Social Services, and they told me that they had taken the mother to see the doctor in July,
but they were still waiting for her report!
So the kids are still suffering!

On the 19th Sept. I went to the market again, where I was to meet Aldrin.
Aldrin had worked as a builder on the house, he was a wonderful help with the kids and Patricia.
He speaks perfect English and even knows when I am joking!
Clara’s English is not good and I really need someone to help with my outreach mission programme.

In the market I met Cinderella and two very dirty and thin little girls;
who screeched with delight as they hugged me.
The girls were Jenny and Bullet. I noticed that they were not wearing shoes…
here everyone wears beach flip flops…
It was the feast of Our Lady of La Salette and I had been invited to lunch at the presbytery.
So I fed the kids their favourite chicken and rice.
I told them to meet me at 3 O’clock and I would buy them flip flops.
Cinderella told me that her mother wanted to see me.
This was something I have been trying to avoid, since she created so many problems on her last visit to Planas.
When I returned to the market the girls were waiting for me; along with all their clothes….

They wanted to come “home”

I was so thrilled, but at the same time apprehensive, what would the mother say?
Did she know that the girls wanted to come with me?
So I thought the best policy was to go and visit the mother and hear what she wanted to say.
This I did. To my delight she wanted to ask me to take the children to Planas to live.
On the understanding that they would go home to her or Saturdays and return to me on Sundays.
I readily agreed. So the children came home with me….
Another grace of La Salette on the feast day…..
The kids were so happy back in Planas and it was not long before our little family increased.
Clara’s grandson PoPo who is two years old and unwanted by his mother came to stay.
Life becomes more exciting every day here!
Two young girls a two year old baby.
Two puppies, who continually chase the two kittens.
Clara, Aldrin and two loca-loca’s (crazy) women Patricia and yours truly!

The girls started school a few weeks back,
but because it is mid term and they had never had any schooling
they have to attend kindergarten…
it is amusing to see Bullet who will be nine in January,
and Jenny who is six go into class with the four year olds.
They don’t care they love there half day at school
and they love the fact that their mummy (me) takes them to school at seven…
Yes seven every morning!
I am trying to start a new trend in Planas, as I am the only mum who takes her kids to school.
It’s great to see twenty or thirty other kids waving bye-bye to you.

At the end of October I went to visit two of the children who were in the orphanage in Santiago,
and who suffered abuse at the hand of the woman who’s prosecution case is still going on.
When the orphanage was closed they were transferred to a social welfare home.
Which is a two hours drive from here.
Very sadly they have not been fostered and have remained there for seven years.
I have been visiting them regularly over the years,
and now I have the home opened it seems only right that they should be part of it.
So Gerome and Alvin will come and live with us at Christmas…..
I think that will complete my family here making us nine in all….
I always wanted a big family hehehe

I am still doing my outreach mission and helping as many people as I can.
Sadly my time is limited and sad to say so are my resources.
It is sometimes very difficult when you see your hard efforts not succeed.
A recent example is that there is a deaf child in our village.
He is five years old and unable to communicate except through violence
(I suspect that is how they communicate with him at home)!
I took the child and his uncle to Manila for hearing check up.
Manila is an eight hour bus ride away.
The child had never left Planas before so it was quite an adventure for him.
We were in manila for three days going from one hospital to another.
The mission of course shouldered all the expenses.
The out come of the tests was that the child was profoundly deaf.
Sadly nothing could be done to help him, except education.
On returning to Planas this was explained to the parents
I offered to make enquiries about education for him….
He can’t even ask to go to the toilet!
I rode by tricycle for two hours to get to the school and found out that the education was free.
All the parents had to do was provide his food and uniform.
The school is weekly residential and they only teach up to eleven years;
after which if they want education they must go to Manila.
I understand that the family are very poor and I even offered to pay for the transport cost.
That was over a month ago!
Sadly the family have not even had even bothered to come back to me and say yes or no….
How sad for the little boy!
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J.P.  Profoundly Deaf
Bullet & Jenny
Excited to be going to school
Clara and the girls in our shop