We have four adorable and wonderful children we are temporarily taking care of. Their mother's are in prison for crimes like stealing food to feed their kids, or doing something illegal in order to make enough money to pay the rent. Today I was one of the staff who took the kids to visit. We left around 9:00 this morning. The prison isn't far, but we had to get there early to sign in. As we waited, the kids ran around and played, and I didn't think much about what it meant for their mothers to be in prison. Two year old Birdy chased three year old Ni Ni and four year old Jamila played hide and seek with her ten year old brother Saja.
We gradually made our way closer to the waiting room as the time drew near for the visiting to begin. A bell rang and we took the children by the hand and entered a long room divided in the middle by plexiglass and iron bars. Eight or nine women sat behind each partition, waiting eagerly to see their loved ones. We sat each child on the counter in front of the glass and watched as the mothers lovingly reached out their hands, eager to get as close as possible to their babies. A phone allowed the kids to hear their mom's voice, and say the few words they know how. Ten year old Saja talked to his mom for a long time, probably about what he's learning in school, the friends he's making, everything and anything to help her know him.
I sat back watching these kids I have grown to love. I watched the eyes of their mothers. The sadness was evident but I knew they were so thankful that their children were safe and being raised in loving homes. I cried. I couldn't help it. Ni Ni's mom couldn't cuddle with him. All Birdy's mom could do was tap on the glass. Saja's eyes were wet as we left. I put my arm around his shoulder and asked him if he was okay. He put on a brave smile and nodded yes.
What a blessing Compasio is to these kids and their mothers. I can imagine that prison is not a safe or nurturing place for a child to grow up. Sickness and disease is common and the children would probably be abused by other inmates. Compasio gives them a safe house. A warm meal. Loving arms to enfold them. Education. When their mothers are released, they are welcome to stay in the houses where their children have been living. But until that day, we will do all we can to be a family to these amazing kids who have blessed us more than they know.