As a fourth-year medical student in 1997, Chi Huang took a break in his training to provide medical care in two orphanages in La Paz, Bolivia. The book “When Invisible Children Sing,” details his experiences on this mission.
When Huang arrives in Bolivia, he is met by a no-nonsense nurse who puts him straight to work in the girls’ orphanage, Yasella Home for Street Girls. His first patient is a teen girl named Mercedes who cuts herself with razor blades. He discovers more than 20 razor blade scars on one arm, including a fresh cut needing treatment. The 15-year-old’s other arm is the same.
After treating Mercedes’ arm, Huang discovers the teen also has a venereal disease. This is Huang’s welcome to the world of Bolivian street children, and it’s only the beginning of his adventure.
Huang also works at a boys’ orphanage, Bururu Home for Street Boys. The word bururu is what street children say when they are cold.
Despite long hours at both orphanages, it is Huang’s desire also to treat the children living on the streets of La Paz, those who either don’t want to live in an orphanage or aren’t welcome in one. To do this, he must visit the streets late at night, when the children and many undesirable adults inhabit the city streets.
Huang shows great patience in gaining the trust of these children, though he is faced with many difficult situations. He discovers the children are always high from sniffing paint thinner, which they do to stay warm and to escape their realities. He also learns that there are certain adults who wish to clean up the streets by rounding up the street children, abusing and even killing them.
Despite these and many other obstacles, Huang is able to show Christ’s love to these children, to gain their trust, and to help some of them. Today he is the founder of the Bolivian Street Children Project.
This book is difficult to read at times because of the devastating situations in which the children live. It is well-written, and provides a very clear and touching description of these children’s realities.
For more information on the Bolivian Street Children’s Project, you can visit http://www.kayachildren.org.