Posted: December 22, 2009 in Non-Fiction


 Vicky ducked under the bed and covered his face. He slid his small hands out from under and pulled the sheet down slowly until it touched the floor and curtained him. He sighed. He couldn’t be seen. They wouldn’t find him.

 The door opened and a pair of shoes stepped in, the light from the corridor filtering in to the dark room. They ambled away from the bed towards the closet door. The doors opened and closed with a creak. The steps were retraced and the shoes walked towards the bed again. Vicky pressed himself closer to the wall and held his breath. A face peered under the bed searching in the darkness until the eyes met his. Vicky screamed in terror and backed himself into the corner, in a ball.

 A pair of hands tried pulling him out. Vicky screamed louder, kicking and yelling and found himself yanked out from under the bed.

He found himself in a bear hug.

 A soothing voice said ‘Now, Now, Don’t be scared I won’t hurt you! Hold me tight now, stop crying Vicky…”

 A simpering Vicky stopped screaming, his breath coming out slower. He turned around and looked into the kind eyes of Dr. Mason who was the social worker and the resident Psychiatrist for the inmates of ‘Sanctuary’ the home for abused and abandoned kids who entered the foster care system run by the state.

 Vicky as he was lovingly called is Victor Hugo the 11-year–old son of a Hispanic couple, who was abused relentlessly by his parents both of whom were victims of substance abuse. Vicky used to hide in the closets for most part of the day avoiding his father’s beatings and his mother’s verbal abuse.

He would watch through the closet doors his parents snorting on some kind of white powder. They would throw food into his room once in two days and if he was lucky he would hear them talk to him in a normal tone.

 Every time an employee of the orphanage came close to him he would jump up startled and walk away. It took Dr. Mason several months to gain his confidence and unmask his horrors. On the fateful day when he was discovered by the police his father was shot to death at home by a drug dealer. His mother had run away leaving him with his father’s body for two days. The psychological trauma that Vicky went through before and after had plunged him into an abyss that seemed hard for him to recover from.

 Then started the process of court hearings and he was shuttled from one foster home to the other and when nobody wanted him anymore, they certified him as unadoptable and brought him to the ‘Sanctuary’. He found himself among several such children in various stages of recovery abused by their own kith and kin and by a system that has abandoned hopes for their normal development. 

 These kids find themselves in the system when they are discovered by social workers who report their abuse and abandonment. Some of these children are so emotionally devastated and broken beyond any kind of treatment. Dr. Mason had heard of every kind of abuse and torture that the kids were subjected to in their homes by their parents or relatives or care-givers. Parents who themselves were victims of social neglect and had gotten into a vicious cycle of alcohol and drug abuse. They vent their frustrations on the children not realizing the consequences of their actions.

  Kind souls like Dr. Mason work on them round-the–clock offering them a shoulder to cry on and slowly healing their scars, one at a time. They are taken care off by social workers and volunteers who spend their time looking after the individual needs of children and making sure they are not hopelessly lost. Case workers work alongside these children making sure their court papers are in order; they are being treated rightly and have a 24 hour access to these children.

 The stories are heart-rending and just listening to them brings on the tears and a strange sense of anger towards humans in general for bringing it on  these innocent children in the first place. Working among them takes a lot of resolve and strength to guide them in the right direction, sometimes it leaves one feeling saddened by the harsh realities that confronts these children and the kind of future that awaits them.

 PS: Names here have been changed and story altered to protect identity of cases.


Comments are closed.