She walks in to church, late, slightly frazzled, with her two children in tow, and smiles proudly when she spots us across the room. She knew we’d love the surprise, and it’s true.
We grab lunch and she animatedly tells us about what she’s been reading in Proverbs and her concerns about her daughter’s sleep habits. She’s been learning a lot in her therapy sessions, and it’s motivated her to use her limited reading ability to open the pages of her Bible, finding within a source of strength and comfort.
She’s twenty one years old. An orphan. Single. Two young daughters and another on the way. The garbage dump has been closing a lot lately, and she’s been struggling to put dinner on the table. There have been nights she has had to send her girls to bed hungry.
We’ve watched her fall apart and pick herself up again more times than we can count.
She’s got everything going against her, and yet here she is, sharing, laughing, loving with a strength and resilience that simply amazes us.
She fights on for her family.
This is not true for all of our families. Others are struggling. They continue to neglect and harm. They keep on believing the lie, that this is as good as it gets for them. They wallow in apathy and self-pity instead of taking the help they receive, and building upon it.
Some days we leave Roots & Wings frustrated and angry and discouraged. Why can’t they see? We are offering them the tools, why won’t they use them?
We are constantly challenging ourselves in our approach to orphan prevention and family preservation. We are always trying to find the careful balance between helpful giving and giving too much. The line between empowering and enabling. Breeding self-sufficiency versus dependency. Being the coach, not the caretaker.
And policies have changed. Expectations have grown.
Because they are capable. Because we see their potential and believe in the person they can be.
Sometimes that means bringing up painful, uncomfortable truths. It means giving them responsibility and holding them accountable.
Sometimes they react in anger. Others rebel. Others hide.
But then there are others that are taking small, yet meaningful steps toward change.
Women like Maria. Seeing her beaming face Sunday morning was a soothing balm to our weary souls. She teaches us that the struggle is worth it.
If she can make beauty from the hard, so can we.