Mostly what they want is to be held. Tightly. One of them has a sweet smile and clear eyes, but soon his groping hands on your face, your hair, tells you those clear eyes are not working for him. To him I am not a foreigner, or a stranger, but a pair of warm arms, a willing embrace. Does he meet those kinds of arms often?
Another one, she squats outside the glass doors that keep them all in the large room with sparse furnishings and walls chipping with paint. She scoops rice and broth from a bowl listlessly into her mouth, eyeing me as I squat next to her. Her hair is short, face expressionless, but she looks to be fourteen and the little one next to her affirms it when I ask the question. I ask her if she likes to read and she nods. I ask her if she can read and she nods. But later I find out her mind is that of a three year old.
The babies lay, lined in their cribs, bottles propped. They are well clothed, so much so that their little heads glisten with beads of sweat. Some watch me with their eyes. The one I hold has purple lips and fair skin, a heart condition apparently. He is tender, surprisingly, tucking his moist head into my neck, searching my face, gripping my fingers as I hold his little hand.
It is a small place, very meager in supplies but enough to keep the children surviving, if not necessarily thriving. You can't help but wonder what help, what difference it makes to hold and to hug for a few short hours every couple of weeks. I wish they were nearby instead of a couple hours drive.
Do you take the baby home, the one they say will not live... to let his last days be in a home, in your arms, where he will be loved? What do you say to the little one in the corner, on the bucket all day, to let him know he is cared about?
Do not withold good from those who deserve it,
when it is in your power to act.
I hold, and whisper prayers. I speak soothing words. He gives grace to the humble (Prov 3:34) Are there any more humble than these? Is there special grace for them? I give so little. They need so much.