Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BROKEN (12/06/18)
- TITLE: Niculaie: The Boy Who Couldn't Love
By Mariane Holbrook
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My name is Elena Matei. I worked at the Busteni Orphanage in Romania when your adopted son, Niculaie Radu, lived there many years ago. After I left my job at the orphanage, I moved to England where I received an education. Presently, I am teaching primary students in Dorchester.
Last month, I returned to Romania to visit my family and to contact some of the children I knew from Busteni. It was then that I learned about Niculaie whom I understand you named "Nic", for short.
After several attempts, I located Nic at a prison hospital about thirty miles from the Busteni Orphanage. He was serving time for breaking and entering and was hospitalized for hepatitus and liver damage but I was able to talk to him. I just learned that he passed away soon after my visit.
He remembered me only slightly but we were able to discuss his life both in Romania and in the United States.
Nic told me about you, your lovely home in Ohio, and about your other children. He told me how hard you tried to make him part of your family and feel loved. He described your church and the Christian school you enrolled him in, along with his adopted brother and sister.
He also told me of the problems he caused, his disruption of your family life, his frequent truancy from school, his fights with neighborhood children and his friendship with boys who taught him to steal and lie. He described the long talks you had with him, trying to break through the emotional barrier he'd constructed. He recalled the several times he was suspended and finally, his leaving home abruptly after high school to seek a life of his own.
Besides asking me to write you, asking for your forgiveness, Nic wanted you to know that after returning to Romania, his neighbor invited him to a home Bible Study where he eventually committed his life to Jesus Christ. This pleased me most because I, too, found faith in Christ soon after I left Romania.
I was only fifteen when I went to work at Busteni Orphanage. I could hardly believe the conditions there. It was like a concrete prison with 400 children.
Two or three babies or toddlers were placed in each crib, lying naked on the urine-stained, bare mattresses. Every child's head had been shaved to keep out the lice. An eerie silence filled the large rooms where as many as 35 cribs were placed close together. Half of the babies died before the age of 3, making room for others to occupy their cribs.
The walls were bare, with no pictures or murals; no toys or books were in sight. On each crib was a sign which read: "Do Not Touch The Children." We were instructed to look away from the children's arms reaching out to us, to ignore their crying, to show no affection to them because they would only demand more.
The four and five-year-old children who were Nic's age, spent their days and nights on rusty, metal cots with no sheets on the mattresses. Some of the children stood defiantly, banging their heads against the walls. Untreated boils and infections were visible on many children.
Forbidden to converse, some lay quietly, staring into the distance. Many were naked, just skin and bones, sitting with their legs crossed. The only thing they lived for was mealtime when they eagerly devoured the usual boiled cabbage, turnips or stew.
Nic received many whippings, mostly for leaving his cot to stare through the barred windows at the unused concrete playground below. For the smallest infraction, he was deprived of meals. When he wet the bed, he was beaten on the soles of his feet. I cried but I was not permitted to comfort him.
I secretly brought him biscuits from home but finally I was caught and severely reprimanded. He was so thin that I worried he might contract hepatitis which already had claimed the lives of hundreds of orphans.
This was Nic's life until you rescued him at age 5, loved him, and tried to give him a good life. By being deprived of any affection in early childhood, he was unable to process love.
He died a broken man but a man forgiven by a loving God. The jagged childhood scars from Busteni Orphanage never seemed to heal, but God will reward you for the many years you lovingly tried.
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me. " (Matthew 25:40)
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