Friday, August 25, 2006

babies having babies

I got a phone call from an old client of mine yesterday. C was part of a large family who had suffered horrendous abuse by the father. She stayed at one of our shelters for over a year when she was 12 or so and we became very close. There are certain people you meet on this journey that you carry in your heart and she is one of them in mine. She called out of the blue (and after several years) and said "It's me. I need help" It's a bit of a joke with some of us who have been around awhile - we'd love to get a phone call from someone who just called to say "hey, it's me, and guess what, I am doing great!" But the nature of the beast and the bitch of poverty doesn't lend itself to that reality as much as it should.

C is 19 now. She has a 7 month baby. No surprise, given the history of sexual and physical abuse she suffered but heartbreaking nonetheless. On her own, didn't get to finish high school, and in trouble. The years melt away in an instant - her precious voice is still the same, only a bit tougher now, and jaded now from 6 more years of hard travelling.

I make some calls and I arrange to meet her at one of our programs. She's on time, with baby and baby daddy in tow. I can tell after a few minutes that we can help, that she isn't doing drugs, that she is serious about keeping her baby safe. Not only can I help, but god, how I want to. I want to wrap her in soft blankets and put her to bed in a quiet room and let her sleep. I want to feed her healthy food and lots of fresh milk. I still think she's 13.

But she's oh so woefully not. She's a mother now, and she's homeless. But sometimes the planets line up well. We have an opening in a program that will keep her safe. We can help her get her diploma and get a job. If she does her part we can meet her halfway and hopefully help her swim against the tide that wants to pull her under. She knows very little other than poverty. She's lost everything years ago, and gave the rest away, but the girl has hope. She wants a better life for her baby, and perhaps we can get there together with a little tough love, a safe place, and some free diapers.

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