January - June 2004


    I arrived in Santiago on the 18th January and on the following day I went to the child abuse hearing,
    only to find to my great annoyance that it had been postponed till March!!!
    This means that since my return last August we have not had a court hearing!
    How slow justice is here in the Philippines! But justice delayed is justice denied is it not?
    Let’s just hope and pray that we will get our hearing on the 17th March and it won’t be postponed yet again!

    That afternoon I went to visit the poor family that I have been feeding and trying to get re-housed for several
    years. I found two of the children in a desperate state.
    The little girl aged 8 years was almost dead from malnutrition she weighed only 28lbs!
    And her elder brother, who is 18 years old, was unable to walk and was suffering malnutrition;
    an injured hip and bedsores weighed only 85lbs!
    I rushed them to the hospital via the social services office,
    to show them the terrible condition that the family was in.
    I had hoped that it would shock them into taking action but so far they have done nothing to help,
    but more of that later.

    The doctor said that two or three days later and the little girl would surely have died…. So God works in very
    strange ways, for had I know that the court case had been postponed until March, maybe I would not have come
    back when I did and the two kids would have surely died.

    While the kids were in the hospital the mother became extremely violent towards them, in fact she tried to kill
    the boy! It was real problem for the staff and of course yours truly, as I had been staying with the kids at night
    and she was with them in the day; it is not like hospitals in the U.K. where the nurses look after the patients,
    here it is the family! And she has no family.
    So it was me who had to look after them with her. The mother was banned from the hospital and so for 5 days
    I was watching them day and night! What a job that was… you would not believe, anyway I will save the story
    about vomiting up 10inch live worms for another time as it is enough to put you off spaghetti for life!!!

    The original plan was to wait until the house that I am having renovated was complete, and then we would all
    move in together, but due to the mothers behaviour the authorities and I agreed that as soon as the kids were
    discharged from the hospital I would take them to Bahay Ng Pag-Asa for their safety.

    So that is just what happened we arrived at the building site on the 26th January 2004 two days after they
    started work, and the five of us, three kids Bullet, Rommel and Jenny their sister (who had received treatment
    for malnutrition last year), Patricia and me have been living in two small rooms while they build around us!
    It is very, very hard believe me! But the kids were making good progress and were very happy.
    They continued to make good progress, and in the first four weeks that we were there they did not asked to go
    home or see their mother once!

    We had a major disaster on the 6th Feb our engineer died of a heart attack; he was only 39 years old!!!!
    It is a sad loss to us all. He was not only our engineer, but also a friend. So now not only was I mum, dad, nurse,
    cook, marketer, accountant and general dog’s body, I also became the engineer having to count bricks and
    bags of cement not to mention paying for everything!

    Patricia is very happy and enjoying the security of her new home.
    Where she was before if she put anything down someone would steal it.
    Here if she puts anything down she falls over it later,
    or I do!!!

    Needless to say I am continuing to work with my existing clients as much as I can.
    But Planas is 7k by dirt track to the nearest town! And the only means of transport is tricycle (motorbike and
    sidecar), and they will not go unless there are seven passengers plus the driver!
    So you can wait up to an hour for a ride. Imagine eight people plus sacks of rice etc., on a motorbike and
    sidecar which will only just hold two and maybe a child uncomfortably!
    You really need a sense of humour to do this kind of work
    believe me!

    Ramon our nearest town is very small, just a market really and it is 8k from Santiago.
    So it is very difficult to travel the 15k to Santiago and is a half day trip at least.
    However Planas is a beautiful place and the people are very friendly; in fact sometimes too friendly.
    Several times I have woken to find neighbours kids in the room just watching me sleep….
    No I can’t lock the door, as there are four of us in the room, and if one of the kids gets up they just leave it
    open! Still when the house if finished I will have my own room with door key… I hope!

    Then one day our happy, peaceful lives changed, the children’s mother arrived at the house!!!
    I don’t know how she found us, and I thought we were in for trouble,
    as she had already been to the hospital after we left with a knife looking for us!!
    But thank God she was not angry, in fact she asked to move in with us,
    and she brought two more of her kids and all their belongings with her.
    I knew it was dangerous but I agreed that she could stay as long as there was no trouble.
    There are 15 men working on the house and 6 of them sleep there as they live too far to go home at night,
    so I thought we were safe enough; although I must admit that I hid all the knives at night!!!!

    Very sadly the mother could not keep to her end of the bargain, and just two days later she had created so
    many problems in the village, that I had no alternative but to send her and the kids away!
    It broke my heart to watch them go. The children were crying and screaming, they didn’t want to go and I didn’t
    want to let them go, but what could I do she is their mother; and she did not make any attempt to fit in with the
    village life, in fact she caused so much trouble in just two days, I though we were all going to be asked to leave!

    It is so sad to think that the kids have gone back to living in the same conditions that almost cost them their
    lives, but without the help of the social services my hands are tied.
    When the mother tried to kill the son in the hospital,
    the social services agreed that they would take her to the mental hospital for assessment….
    They didn’t!!!
    Every couple of days I asked what was happening and just got fobbed off. So now unless they take the kids
    away from her by force, I am powerless to do any thing, except pray and feed them with out the mother knowing,
    if I manage to see them when I go to Santiago.

    Please pray for the kids their lives are so hard you and I would not keep dogs in the conditions that those kids
    endure. Needless to say I will keep nagging the social services
    (I am getting very good at it)
    to do something and I will continue to feed them when I can.

    So Patricia and I lived alone in the house for about six weeks, while the builders continued to work around us;
    until Rommel returned apparently his mother had thrown him out just a few days after they left Planas,
    and he had been sleeping in the market along with his friend Alvin.
    Needless to say I agreed to let Rommel stay even though he is extremely hard work.
    Rommel is mentally retarded with a mental age of seven or eight and has been diagnosed as psychotic.
    Rommel says he is 18, but he does not know his date of birth and after I did some digging around I found that
    he was not even registered at birth!
    My lawyer says that we can enter a late (very late) registration for him.
    Just recently I have taken out medical insurance for us all and we had to give him a date of birth.
    He was thrilled when the clerk suggested that he has the same date as his mama Nickie, so now we will
    celebrate together.
    Patricia is 40 and she is a manic depressive schizophrenic and insists on calling me mummy. This is very
    sweet, but can be embarrassing in public. In fact I am almost sure she does it on purpose as people always
    ask her questions about me (there are very few foreigners in Santiago) and it gives her a perfect opportunity to
    tell everyone her complete life story. Which she loves to do. Sadly she has had a very hard life which has
    caused the mental problems she is now suffering, but as strange as it seems she is an inspiration to many
    people, proving to them that there is life during mental illness.

    The week that I was coming home, I was told that Alvin one of my street kids had been found dead in the river!
    This was something that I found hard to believe as Alvin was always filthy
    and even objected to taking a bath when I bought him new clothes a few weeks earlier.
    I went to the police and they told me that a child was found dead in the river
    but they didn’t investigate the cause of death and referred me to social services…
    if you can call them that…
    Anyway just as I suspected they fobbed me of referring me to the hospital.
    At the hospital I was told that a boy of Alvin’s description had died but after three days and as other patients
    were complaining about the smell….
    Can you believe they have no mortuary, and as no one had claimed the body they just buried the child wrapped
    in a blanket… No one claimed the body as no one cared about him and the only one who did ..
    didn’t hear about his death until it was too late !

    Alvin was a tall boy with curly hair about 16 years old I think, but he didn’t know how old he was,
    all he knew was that his name was Alvin and that he live in the Church and the Market
    how he got there or where he came from he didn’t know.
    Alvin had a mental age of about 5years old.
    This is commonly caused by malnutrition at an early age.
    When ever he saw me coming he would shout at the top of his voice “mama Nickie”
    and running towards me hurl himself at me from several yards.
    A wonderful greeting, but as he was quite a big boy and I’m well…
    not very strong this often used to end in us falling amongst the market stalls
    and then my being dragged of to the nearest fast food restaurant to buy him his favourite chicken and rice.
    How I wish I could buy him chicken and rice now,
    I am really going to miss him…
Jenny & Bullet
Our Dinning Room & Kitchen
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