A few weeks ago we brought a young boy into our care at the White Home for boys in the Philippines. He was removed from a situation of exploitation with other children for an international cyber-porn operation. The perpetrators have been arrested. The good news is that he is now safe and beginning his long road of recovery.
I have been haunted by this boy’s story since we received the news. I can’t shake it. It isn’t that his case is more heinous than others, because they are all heinous.
Here’s what’s been eating at me:
I was dislocated at roughly the same age when my family moved from Vermont to New York City. I was confused. I didn’t understand why I had to leave my friends and my home. I missed my old life. It has taken most of my adult life to understand the impact I felt by the move.
So now I can’t stop thinking of this child, and his dislocation. A young boy who, through no fault of his own, was brought to an unfamiliar place, where he knows no one, and has no idea what his life will be like. It all sounds a little familiar.
What I experienced is nothing like what he experienced. He had lived in some of the deepest poverty in the world; my needs were met in comfort. He was moved from a situation in which adults he trusted violated that trust and abused him. He went from a place where his physical and mental health were being compromised and his environment inhospitable, to a safe home designed to nurture and nourish him with all the resources and support I had experienced by virtue of the luck of birth.
So I wonder: how is he adjusting? Does he miss his family? Does he blame himself?
As I think of him, I trust he will find his place at the White Home. I hope he will meet new friends. I hope he will play in the grass and swim in the water. I hope he will come to see the people around him — his friends, his caregivers, his therapists, his teachers — as his family, and they will love him and nurture him and truly keep him safe. He may have struggles. He may even miss his home and want to return to it. But I hope, as he grows up, he will become more settled, and find a healthy path ahead. I’m rooting for him.