If you were to walk the grounds of Casa Aleluya, you would find that many of the little faces look similar. It is more obvious in some cases, but you might be astonished by just how many families live in our home. At times, this is surprising when you see that many of these siblings never play together, never talk, never share their hearts, their hurts, their joys with one another. There are, however, some families who are most obviously ‘family’. They can be seen at most any time, in any combination, spending time together, caring for one another. The Juracan Pols are such a family.
In the 5 years they have lived at Casa Aleluya, Regina, Blanca 1, Chica, Chato and Rudy have known the meaning of family in a more stable and functional way than they ever had before arriving here. The future looked dim for these young impressionable minds, living at home with alcoholic parents and a sister practicing prostitution; but God had a different plan. At the age of 14 months, Rudy was found in the street face down in a puddle and believed to be dead. He was taken to the morgue where it was later discovered he was still breathing. Chica and Chato, though fraternal twins, are not nearly the same size. When the family struggled to feed all the children, they allegedly sold Chica to a woman who was better able to provide balanced meals. When the woman died, a family member ‘reclaimed’ Chica. As a result of the time spent in the other home, Chica is much bigger and stronger than her twin Chato. According to our social worker’s report, the children lived like animals; eating off the floor, unaccustomed to wearing clothing or socializing with others. The oldest child in our care, Regina, was only 9 years old when they arrived. She became the head of the family – for who else would teach the 3 year old twins and the 14 month old baby about family and togetherness? Blanca, little more than a year younger than Regina, also played a key role in keeping this family knit together.
And the family has survived, even thrived. The children have learned how to keep a family together even living within what most would call an ‘institutional’ home. No, the children do not sleep under the same roof or even share meals at the same table. But they seek each other. They are confident of the love they share and are secure in the knowledge that, though their surroundings may be slightly unconventional, they are family. And that is a treasure that will last them a lifetime.