The visit to the government facility was a blur. I met so many children who have been abused or abandoned, dozens of babies laying in cribs waiting desperately for human contact, and more than 30 children with special needs that the government was asking help with. After the tour, I remember having to sit down with Deborah, our Residential Care Director, to start the impossible task of narrowing the list of 30 down to 1. We had one spot, which means we had to pick one boy out of the dozens we met. The process was heart-wrenching. At the end, we both agreed. We saw a little boy who stood silently in the back, not making eye contact and not interacting with us or the other children. We asked one of the other children who the boy was and he told us, “he has no name.” We found out that because he didn’t have a birth certificate and because he didn’t speak, nobody knew his name.
The day Dominic came to us, he walked in the door with tan UGG boots that had the word “Masculino” (male) written on the sides with black permanent marker. That’s what they called him…male. We were told he was picked up on the streets of Tijuana wandering alone. That’s all we knew about him. At the facility, his lack of sociability led the staff to believe that he was deaf. We quickly discovered that he’s not deaf. The first night, he was biting, crying, and refusing to eat. He didn’t know us. He didn’t trust us. This 5-year-old boy was uprooted again and was surrounded by strangers. I can’t even imagine the emotional trauma he was processing.
It’s been seven months since he came to live with us. He’s a different boy. He uses sign language to say what we wants and to pray for meals, he’s affectionate with us and is learning to be affectionate with the other boys in the home, he’s eating everything on his plate, and he’s learning important life skills. A safe, loving home has made a world of difference in his life. Dominic, the boy who had no name, is now known and loved. He now has a name.
Names are important. Jean Vanier and John Swinton write: “Stigma occurs when we name things wrongly. The world of stigma is ugly. It destroys and caricatures people and leaves them lonely, isolated and lost. This is why the apparently small gesture of giving someone back their name is profoundly powerful. It is a way of making people who have been deemed to be ugly beautiful again. To name things properly is to act humanly and to bring ‘non-persons’ back into the community of humanness.”
Your support has helped us give Dominic his name back and helped us give him a loving home. Right now, there are other children like Dominic who are still waiting for a home. We want to do something about it, but we need your help. In a few short months, a new home is going to be finished and 6 more children will have a home. We have a matching grant of $10,000 to help us cover the salaries of full-time caregivers. Please join us in this life-changing effort to provide a home for 6 more children. Help us liberate them from the facilities they live in to give them a chance to grow up safe and happy. Any amount helps. To give, please click on the donate button below. Thank you!