Stanley carefully smooths his Spiderman blanket over his bed. Earlier that week, Stanley celebrated his 5th birthday with a frosted cake and a special gift. Surrounded by friends and caregivers, he eagerly pulled white tissue paper from a gift bag to find a plush Spiderman blanket. His brown eyes grew wide, as he gingerly ran his fingers across the soft material.
Even days later, Stanley smiled when he thought about his birthday celebration and his first birthday gift ever, his prized Spiderman blanket from his sponsor in the U.S. He could hardly believe it was just for him.
But Stanley hasn’t always been so carefree. In September, Stanley was on the verge of slipping through the cracks when his grandmother passed away. As Stanley’s only immediate family, she cared for the boy since he was a baby. With her gone, Stanley felt like his world stopped. Before long, a great uncle brought Stanley to Jesus Name Children’s Home, a Back2Back sponsored children’s home in Haiti several hours from his grandmother’s home. His first month there, he played with the other children, but mostly, he was quiet, reserved, and lost in thought. He thought of his grandmother often and he remembered how safe he felt with her near.
Stanley’s caregivers were with him every step of the way, supporting him, loving him and showing him that he was not alone. Sometimes with words. Sometimes with a smile. And sometimes by just being present with him in the midst of his grief.
Stanley felt kindness in his caregiver’s voice and he knew he was safe. Tears streamed freely down his cheeks and he didn’t wipe them away pretending to be brave. She put her arm around Stanley’s thin shoulders and sat quietly by his side until dinner, giving him space to feel and grieve and just be.
At dinner that night, she watched Stanley talking with the other boys. Stanley’s eyes met her gaze and Stanley flashed a grin – the first time she had seen him smile since he arrived at the home over a month ago.
In the days and weeks that followed, Stanley realized he had a safe place to grieve and feel and be loved for who he is. As his heart began to heal, caretakers noticed he was eating more, sleeping well and eager to attend school. His infectious smile and joyful exuberance has infused new life and energy into the home. Today, Stanley has found his place at Jesus Name Children’s Home.