Believe it or not, here at Casa Shalom we're already making plans for Christmas. Each December, the kids of Casa Shalom leave for 3 - 4 weeks to spend the holiday with family, if they have family, are legally allowed to see them, and if the family can care for them for that long. Other kids have no family and live with local pastors. This tradition allows the kids to experience a more family-oriented atmosphere during the holidays and allows them to have more attention focused on them individually. Sadly, there is a group of three siblings who will be spending their first Christmas without their family. Vinicio, Marvin and Colim have been at Casa Shalom for several years - they were removed from their home because they had no father and their mother, a drug dealer, didn't care for them and allowed them to wander freely in the city's largest garbage dump, which was adjacent to their home. Regardless of their mother's profession, the kids enjoyed spending the holidays with their mother - until last year when a few days into January, people angry with her over a drug deal gone bad invaded their home and murdered their mother, several cousins, and aunts during dinner one evening. All 3 kids were present and survived by diving out the window or hiding under the dinner table.
It's certainly not our goal to depress anyone - it's just that we are constantly amazed by the obstacles many of these kids have faced in their short lifetimes. Kids like Vinicio, Marvin and Colim have experienced more heartache in their 13, 11, and 9 years than many of us will experience in a life time. In the last few weeks, Vinicio has been acting out both in class and at home and we were getting frustrated by his lack of responsivenss. But after we heard this story, we began to have more compassion for Vinicio and his struggle to cope with the murder of his family in front of his eyes. Please keep these 3 special kids in your prayers, even as we look for a caring, compassionate family to place them with during their first Christmas away from their mother.