Up on a little hill in Sendai is the LaSalle Home for Children, led by Brother Rodrigo Trevino. This is where school supplies and other materials from Living Dreams were sent in the past months. The home houses 80 children ages 2-18--with a preponderance of boys because until 1997 the home was a boys' home--but there are about a dozen girls there now too, including one of the girls orphaned by the tsunami last year.
The older children live in 3-4 bedroom apartments inside the home each with a den mother, each group with a range of ages, each with its own bathroom and kitchen. We happened to be at the home on the first Monday of April, when the kids about to enter first grade get to move from the big dorm rooms that house the little ones to one of these family style apartments--as we found out when we were introduced to six-year old Luke. His first announcement to us was that he was all packed and ready to go--up to join the older boys in an apartment upstairs.
The home is lovely, with a gym large enough for volleyball and school plays, and a baseball and soccer field out back. The gym came in handy when the kids and staff took refuge there while the electricity and water were out in Sendai for over a week (the gym has a separate heating system fueled by kerosene tanks).
Over 40% of the kids are there because they have been taken away from abusive situations at home--an alarming statistic considering that Japan only signed on to the UN declaration of the rights of the child in 1994--which is when child abuse became an acceptable reason for the state to put the kids in fostercare. But the love and thoughtfulness with which Brother Travinjo and his staff interacted with the kids and designed the structure of the home could go a long way to comfort them.
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