By Carina Cruz Benson
Two boys knocked at the door of the Children’s Center to request for snacks. Asked if they wanted to join my lecture on exercise, nutrition and personal hygiene, only one said yes and the other opted to leave. It was Augustine who stayed and that was how we met.
Being the first student to be in my class, I chatted with him. He was 11 years old; he was at the shelter with his mother for three weeks at that point because his father beat them up. He was from California. Augustine wanted to be a cop because he wanted to help people.
It struck me that Augustine was a different child because he wanted to help people despite the fact that he was at the shelter getting help. I told him then that he was special and that I believed he could become a cop. I shook his hand and made him promise to keep his dream alive and become a cop when he grows up.
Up to twenty children came for my lecture and they were at the shelter because either their mothers were in dire economic straits or they were battered women. As I asked questions throughout my lecture, Augustine always raised his hand to answer and there were times I called on him during which he unflinchingly stated a wrong answer but an answer nevertheless. He was bold but willing to learn.
At the end of the lecture, I met Augustine’s mother. She was an attendee in my previous lecture for women in goal setting and time management. I remembered her because during my lecture for the women’s group, she said that she had faith that her life will get better when I asked about her current circumstances. That explained Augustine to me. His mother was a battered woman in dire straits but had faith and is now working towards making her life better for her son.
There are so many interesting characters from all walks of life that I meet during my journey as a missionary, each one with a story to tell. I have no doubt Augustine and his mother will fare well in the future because their spirituality will make them resilient as they face their current predicament. Their homelessness and poverty are not a permanent state and they will eventually succeed at turning things around. I do no doubt it at all.