January 22

Dear Diary,
Today, Lucero was well enough to go to mass with us. She has many bruises on her skin, but the colors have faded and her face is no longer swollen. Mama said she did not have to go, but Lucero shook her head. “I have to thank God,” was all she said. I have a lot of thanks to give, as well, Diary.

The night we found Lucero, twenty-five children came to the courtyard. Everyone in my family helped give them food and drink; we borrowed as many blankets as we could find from friends and neighbors. Carlos carried pans of water and soap, and Mama let them wash their faces and hands. Then Papa locked the courtyard gate so that they would not be afraid to sleep.

The next day, a man and woman from Casa Alizia came to the gate. They run a shelter for children, and they talked about hot showers, food, and beds for everyone. Many of the children were scratching themselves, Diary, so I know they needed showers! A lot of the children, especially the younger ones, decided to go to the casa. Some of the others left, especially when Mama said they would all have to wash and be treated for fleas and lice (even us, said Mama!) if they stayed. But they will come back for food as always. The church brought us dishes of rice and beans and tamales to help feed our guests, and Señora Ramos, who is a nurse, brought bandages and medicine to treat wounds. There were mostly cuts and bad bruises—but a couple of the older boys needed stitches. Sandros had a broken arm and was taken by Señora Ramos to the hospital.

Before he left, he looked at my Papa for a long time. Then he whispered, “Gracias por ayudarme. Thank you for helping me." His eyes were very shiny, Diary, like it hurt him to say it. Ay mio, what will happen next?

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