Meet "Nate". (not his real name)
In 2007, Mental Disability Rights International did an investigation into the treatment of individuals with disabilities in the institutions of Serbia. Ianna, Nate and several other children were removed from the facility at that time. They were moved to the orphanage where Asher spent his entire life.
In April of 2010 I met Nate. Or maybe Nate met me! As you can see by Nate's eyes above, he looked right through me and into my soul. He spoke to me without uttering a sound. He told me with his eyes of the horrors he'd seen and heard. As he sat eating his lunch, the caregivers told us through a translator of all the things Nate could not do. As they spoke, Nate sat with a smirk on his face. When he was done eating he stood up and proceeded to do all the things the caregivers had just said he was unable to do.
Nate climbed into my heart and he stayed there. I've never stopped praying for him, and wondering what happened to him. He's one of the children I vowed to get out. Somehow...somehow I would get him out.
When I returned to Serbia in December 2010 I asked to see Ianna, and was told she'd been moved. I asked to see Nate and was told he'd been moved as well. My heart was broken knowing the two children I'd worried about most had been moved to Hell on Earth.
In May 2010, my third trip to Serbia in just one year, I was able to find out where Ianna had been moved to, but wasn't able to find out anything about Nate. My heart ached for him. I wish I could show you his pictures....you'd understand. You'd be able to see what I saw. What I still see and feel.
Just one month ago I returned to Serbia yet again, this time to bring Asher home. Asher was in the same facility where I'd met both Ianna and Nate. During my visits with Asher I was very limited what areas I could go to, though I did accidentally find myself on the wrong floor once. (the power had gone out and I had to take the stairs instead of the elevator...THAT was interesting!) When I walked onto the floor I looked at every face, trying to find those I recognized, particularly those who I know have families coming for them very soon. I just wanted to see them, and if I was really lucky, to put my hands on them. To tell them "Soon...soon your mama will be here for you."
Two days after I arrived home with Asher I received an email. It was from Kai's family. They'd found him! Nate was THERE. He called her "Mama" and took her hand. He knew that she was Kai's mama, and he understood. He understood that that Kai was one of the lucky ones. He, himself, would be left behind again.
Nate, a child with mild cp who walks, is in one of the "laying down rooms", a place where the non-ambulatory children are kept. Just as he was when I first met him, he is still skin and bones. During the days he is brought out to the hall to watch the world go by. There he sits, all day long. (updated to add: Kai's mom commented on this blog post. Please be sure to read her comment!)
Nate is either turning or just turned 12 years old. Twelve. He has spent 12 years waiting for his Mama to find him.
Who will be Nate's Mama?