In honor of her birthday today we wanted to share a little about Fátima, one of missionary sisters at the Mission Home. Fátima has been a part of the Mission Home since the very beginning, taking care of abandoned, abused, and neglected children for over 30 years. She is the epitome of motherly love…compassionate, patient, caring, energetic, affectionate, guiding, and stern when necessary. She has been in charge of caring for the little boys for many years now, and at one time cared for as many as 100 little boys at the same time. She calls her life easy now that she only has to care for 19 (ranging in age from 2 years old to 12). But anyone who comes to the Mission Home can see how it would be impossible to find someone else who could do all that she does.
More impressive than her incredible work ethic and dedication to her calling is her simple and pure love. She is gifted with the ability to make anyone that comes in contact with her feel special, cared for, and genuinely loved, a characteristic that goes a long way with the children she cares for. If you come to the Mission Home she will likely be the first one to greet you with a big smile on her face. And even if she is in the middle of doing laundry for her 19 boys or helping get each of them bathed and ready for bed, she will be sure to take a moment to ask how she can help you, and let you know that you are welcome. Since we arrived back at the Mission Home, she has offered daily to take care of Regan to ‘give us a break’. We laugh at the absurdity that we could possibly be the ones in need of a break, when she cares for so many every second of the day. But it is in this way that she demonstrates how much she cares.
We learned of the capacity of Fátima’s love from a past volunteer. An 11 year old boy arrived at the home having survived physical and verbal abuse from his guardians. For the first several months at the home he screamed at everything, and everyone, often throwing all of the contents of whatever room he was in onto the floor or at whoever was passing by. He refused to eat, and flailed his body out of control when asked to complete any task. His destructive behavior was a common manifestation of the trauma many of the kids experience. Fátima was patient. Each day when he would begin to scream or lose control she would hug him, tell him it was okay, and that she was there. After 3 months of this, Fátima knew that she needed to help break this cycle so the boy could have a life again, succeed in school, and begin to heal. So that day when he began to scream she wrapped him tight in her arms and held him for more than 30 minutes repeating that it was enough, she understood his suffering but he could stop the screaming now, she was there and she loved him. He did. And though it took many more months and professional psychological services to advance the healing process, the boy is stable now. He is a good student and a caring older brother and friend.
Fátima motivates us to work harder and to put love at the center of everything we do. Happy birthday to you, our dearest friend Fátima!