A Prodigal Parallel

She was the middle child of the four.

Lina and her three siblings lived in Asuncion, Paraguay, raised by their single mother. Destitute and struggling for survival, she had resorted to prostitution as a means to an end. But with a steady stream of men coming in and out of the house, neighbors began to notice and complain. Finally, the authorities were called in to rescue the children out of the hostile environment. That’s when Lina and her siblings were brought to Hogar El Comino 8 years ago.

Though they were safe and sound at the home, much of the emotional damage underneath the surface had already been done. But even still, Lina and her brother and sisters were beginning their journey on the path to healing.

During their first few years at the home, Lina had a difficult time adjusting to life at Hogar El Comino. With the trauma from her past, it was very difficult for her to begin to accept the loving care of her house parents. Finally, her rebellion began to lash out in flashes of anger, and it became too much for the house parents and other children to handle. Lina wanted to leave the home and go back to living with her mother. So finally, she was sent back to live with her family.

For the next 10 months, Lina was continually passed from family member to family member, until finally she ended up with some distant relatives who served as the groundskeepers of a local park. Treated as a servant rather than a member of their family, Lina’s cousins kept her in tattered clothes and constantly put her through intensive labor to earn her keep.

That’s when the director’s of Hogar El Comino, Jackie and Brian, received another phone call, notifying them of Lina’s current situation. Her case had once again been brought before the local court, and they were now legally obligated to find Lina and let her know that she had the option of coming back to the home with them.

When they found her, she was raking the park, dressed in ragged clothes with a huge, infected gash on her leg. Fully expecting her to reject their offer, the directors lovingly told her that she had the option to come back with them to the home.

Lina’s eyes filled with tears as she immediately accepted their offer, believing it was too good to be true.

Immediately Jackie and Brian took Lina home and tended to her, cleaning her up and giving her time to rest knowing that she was finally safe.  And although coming back home was a relief to Lina, the trauma she had experienced during her time away from the home only added to her childhood anguish. As a result, some of Lina’s past behaviors began to resurface.  So a month after her return to Hogar El Comino, Brian and Jackie decided it would be best for Lina if they took her into their own home.  Not only was Lina going to continue living at the children’s home, but she was now going to live with the directors as one of their own. From then on, Lina began to truly progress and blossom.

“I just had to see it with my own eyes,” Lina told Jackie and Brian. “I needed to see that the home was the safest and best place for me. I needed to see that my biological family couldn’t take care of me. I needed this family.”

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Story by Bri Bentley