Grasping Their Cross

This account will touch many of us; it is a story that could inspire novel writers and if made into a play would touch every fiber of emotion and sensibility in our souls. This is the life of Maria and Carlos.

This account will touch many of us; it is a story that could inspire novel writers and if made into a play would touch every fiber of emotion and sensibility in our souls. This is a story of violence and exclusion.

She is an eight-year-old girl. She plays with her doll and has dreams, dreams of going to school, dreams of meeting the “Disney princesses.” One somber and sad winter day, Maria’s life was hit with a nightmare: her dad who gave her life but who never loved or respected her took advantage of her and afterwards, her innocent fantasies were converted into sadness, despair and impotence. She fled from her house, the house that had never represented a home, a family or security. She found refuge in the Albergue de los Chicos de la Calle (Shelter for Street Children) and met Carlos, a 12-year-old boy who got drunk to forget his mother’s physical and mental abuse.

Two young children who could hardly support themselves; two souls together but still alone, subdued, without comfort or optimism.

They talked between themselves, shared illusions and grew closer, with affection, kisses and sexual relations. They never received acclimation, nor the opportunity to restart their lives. There was no advice, no help, no schooling, nothing! Not even documentation of birth certificates or identification.

Maria is turning 12 years old, her stomach showing a baby bump. For Carlos, his motive is not one of joy. He sees it as just the way life goes and for him, it’s all the same. He remains living on the street, his refuge being that pile of cement that provides him with alcohol, glue and marijuana.

Maria, Maria! All alone with a child, fighting for food, a home, stability and trying to live without so much misery. She can’t though; she needs money and resorts to prostitution  without safety or prevention even though with that comes more children. Promiscuity, addiction and malnutrition have made Maria’s health deteriorate. She contracted AIDS and has passed the disease on to her latest child.

Carlos sells candy on buses, on a good day making $2. When his body doesn’t demand him to fuel his addiction he brings those $2 home, if you can even call the place where he and his family cover themselves from the rain and sun a home, and that way suppresses his hunger for a while.

What future awaits them? They are people but at the same time they don’t exist. They don’t have documentation stating that they are alive and that they are citizens, so they can’t do anything.

Maria constantly debates between life and death, waiting for a space to open in a shelter for her and her children. Carlos  lives away from reality. Most of his nerve cells are damaged, if he even has some still in good shape. What can be done about Maria’s disease? What can she do to get anti-viral medications, the same ones that people get through government programs? Carlos and Maria grasp their cross.


About Hogar de Cristo - Ecuador

Cuenta manejada por el departamento de Comunicaciones de Hogar de Cristo, Ecuador.
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