La Familia Baez: Valentina

September 26, 2011

She glanced at me with distrust. It was almost a cold glare. Everyone else was greeting me with the customary two kisses and some children were even snuggling in already, but she just stood and stared, close enough to get a good look but still far enough that I couldn’t reach out for her.

When she did approach me, it was only to ask strange questions like, “Is J (who is a Caucasian grandmother) your mother?”

“No, she’s not my mom.”


“Um…yes. I’m fairly certain she is not my mother.” (Ha.)

She continued to mostly avoid me except to ask the mother question over and over. Then we paid a visit to the Baez house (um, shack?), and suddenly she was my best buddy. Not ten seconds after I greeted her sisters, she had climbed onto my lap, commandeered my arms to wrap around her, and nestled her face in my hands. Her nappy hair taunted my cheek and for a second, I thought I saw some crawlies, but the little muffin sat with me for almost an hour without moving. I didn’t have the heart to worry too extensively about what I could be taking home with me later. I wondered though if she could count the snuggles she had received in her lifetime on one hand.

A scuzzy man stumbled onto the compound. He was unkempt in every aspect and clearly intoxicated. He gave me the heebies. Valentina meekly crawled off my lap and to my horror, walked over to give the man a halfhearted hug. I glanced back and saw her sad eyes glaze over. Joana quietly informed us that he was in fact Valentina’s father, and had only recently started coming around to see his daughter. She also confided in a low voice that normally she does not allow Valentina to go with him when he is drunk, but he was going to buy her dinner and she was not about to refuse her sister her only meal of the day. I cringed as Valentina clung to his arm and crossed the street.

They returned thirty minutes later and went straight into the one-room shack. I shuddered as every terrible scenario passed through my mind, knowing no one else was inside to serve as a buffer and understanding full well that despite the sinking feeling in my gut, I had no right to go in and rescue the child. Every passing second he didn’t leave was agonizing. I felt nauseous. The stories I heard at my last job¬†sometimes catalyze my worries unreasonably, but in this instance, the dread in my soul felt so real. The only thing I could offer were desperate prayers to the Lord for justice to be manifest in this dark corner of the world.

God knows what happened in there. The likelihood of abuse weighs heavily on my heart. Why must this be reality for a seven-year-old (or anyone for that matter)?

“Dinner” was a glass of milk and she didn’t come out to say goodbye when we left.

Life is so stinking unfair.


2 Responses to “La Familia Baez: Valentina”

  1. tim Says:

    wow… thanks for bringing this to the doorsteps of our hearts where we may be reminded of the injustices and sin that pervades so we may cry out together for His kingdom to come and His will be done…

  2. […] few days ago, it was confirmed that Valentina has been (and for all we know, continues to be) sexually abused*. The gasps of shock were audible, […]

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