Roberto was a burly, nine-year old Down’s syndrome pupil of ours. Every Saturday morning, he attended the Special Activities Group and enjoyed a few hours singing, painting, acting- out Bible stories and of course, playing football. He was very good-humoured and a favourite with all his companions.
On this particular Saturday, after the normal fifteen minutes’ football, Sister Rita invited the children to come indoors for some refreshments. The twenty or so children all came running but then, all being served, it was noticed that Roberto was missing! Immediately, a search got underway. Carers and children went looking in all the rooms of the small, school building we used, but there was no sign of Roberto. Out- of- doors searches yielded up the same negative results.
“Could he have wandered off into another yard?” we asked. Security is not very tight in the shanty towns and a lack of railings and gates is quite common. Lots of children play about in the wide, open, space. Had Roberto slipped through the gap in a weak and wandered away? There was no sign of him.
We, who were responsible, visited his family to report him missing. Before long, Roberto’s neighbours and even dwellers of neighbouring shanty towns were all mobilised to help. So many people they said they knew the jolly, smiling boy seemed to be everyone’s friend.
We visited police stations, hospitals and sports club, but to no avail. And as night fell and our preoccupation increased, we doubled our efforts and prayers.
One priest, helping in the search, reassured us: “Don’t worry, “ he said, he will be found on the third day, like Jesus.” And so he was!
Sunday morning found us all with the same anxious look on our faces. Now we went to the churches and Mass centres in the area and asked that Roberto’s disappearance be announces from the altars. By this time, we have prepared posters with Roberto’s photos. Still, no sign. And night fell.
Monday morning dawned early and bright. Glorious sunshine filled the blue sky as the shanty town came to life. Stallholders in the local market began to arrive for another day’s work. All was bustle and movements as vendors met van of supplies and began to arrange their wares. In the midst of all this bustle and noise, nobody seemed to notice the hungry-looking child, longing for a cup of tea and a bun.
But just then, along came a huge Coca-Cola truck, driven by Luis. It was, indeed, an answer to prayer that Luis, from his high-up vantage point, spotted Roberto, his neighbour, whom everyone was looking for! Pulling up to the kerb, Luis opened the door and shouted, “Roberto would you like a ride in my truck?” What little boy would refuse a ride in a powerful truck driven by a friendly neighbour? And so, up jumped Roberto and off they went to bring the good news to the family: Roberto who had been lost, was found”
With the most joyful of welcomes embraces and kisses all round, the family insisted that Luis join in the celebration. And then, turning to Roberto, his father asked, “And what were you doing while you were away?” With a broad grin, Roberto replied, “I was selling Coca-Cola!”
-By Sr. Elizabeth Doyle,SSC
Published by PIONEER Magazine ( February 2017)