Over the last five years developing and running The Almond Tree, I have encountered many life changing moments. Moments that have profoundly changed the fiber of my being and have challenged my beliefs and deepened my faith.
Like the moment I fetched Baby R who was just weeks old, from a taxi rank where he was left on a table all alone in the wee hours of the morning, or like the moment I was handed baby M who was found in a packet on a sidewalk, left to suffocate. And most especially like the moment we handed baby M over to his forever family.
The day I met Constance was a sobering moment for me. Constance is only 7 years old, but has been expected to function as an adult, taking responsibility for her epileptic, autistic 10-year-old brother and her very active “wild” little sister of 4 years old.
Every day the three siblings would be locked out of their shack and left to fend for themselves without any adult supervision. Neither of the children have ever been to school and rummaging for food trying to find what they need for everyday was normality to them.
The older brother would have a number of seizures almost on a daily basis. Constance would have to deal with her brother when this happened, caring for him and helping him, all the while trying to keep her little sister under control.
Constance would always feed her siblings before herself, mothering and caring for them selflessly. The children rarely bathed which led to sores and scabies on Constance’s skin.
Meeting Constance has changed me. She is true to her name, she is constant, even-keeled, sweet and kind, very eager to please and always ready to run into your arms and give you a big hug.
Constance LOVES her bath and how it makes her feel…..clean and fresh.
One night this week, I had the privilege of tucking her into her bed at bedtime. Constance LOVES her bed. She has never had her own bed. Her bed is new, and her blankets and sheets smell fresh and feel crisp and clean. She opened her bed….her very own bed…..with a squeal of delight and grabbed her teddy that she hugs so tightly. I wrapped the duvet tightly around her body and kissed her giggling face and told her that I love her.
This moment of connection is so beautiful to me and has deeply impacted me. How she has even survived this long under the stress, trauma and challenges that she has faced at such a young age, is miraculous.
Constance is a constant reminder to me of Jesus’s amazing grace, not only to her but to me too. I have so much hope for her future. I am dreaming of who she will be one day, and I see so much promise in her eyes.
Story by Charmaine McQueen