Sunday, March 30, 2014

SOLSC #30 When a child is invisible

I am posting every day during March as part of the annual "Slice of LifeChallenge for Two Writing Teachers.  Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.


For today's slice,
I want to share the heaviness in my heart about
the disappearance of Relisha Rudd,
an eight year old girl who lives here in Washington, D.C.,
resident of a homeless shelter.
I've been thinking and praying about her since March 20th,
when my phone received an Amber Alert.
They believe her to be in the company of a "51-year-old janitor [at the shelter] Kahlik Malik Tatum."
She was last seen alive around March 1st.
The Amber Alert came out on March 20th.
My heart breaks.
What is community, when a child is invisible?
When it takes three weeks to notice she is gone?
What is community, when neither school nor shelter report this child's absence, for many days?
What is community, when there are more than 500 children in our local homeless shelters? In our nation's capital?
What is community, when a child is invisible?
What is community, when I have to search into the depths of the local paper to find any mention of her?
What is community, when I listen to local radio reports on the way to and from work, and her disappearance is mentioned not at all or deep in the broadcast, after
a missing airplane,
missing people in a mudslide across the nation from us,
the local elections,
the rainy weather.
What is community, when a child is invisible?
My heart breaks.


  1. Heart wrenching. I live in the northeast and I came across the headline last week, but have heard nothing else. My fear is that as time goes on the less likely good news will be heard.

  2. It is so sad and disturbing when a child is missing. I hope she is found.

  3. You have hit on a key point that is the elephant in the room in this country... there are a large number of people who just don't seem to "count" to the media, to social programs (that politicians love to call "entitlement programs"), and sometimes even to us. My latest love and interest is in teaching social justice topics (gently, age-appropriately) to children and to encourage them to make a call for action (gently, age-appropriately). This problem will only be solved with love and education.

  4. So sad indeed that it took so long for anyone to discover that she was even missing. Such a sad, disturbing story, and one we hear about more and more often.

  5. Sad. Sad. Sad. This is the nation we have become...our neediest children are unnoticed. Thank you for reminding us about Relisha today.

  6. And we in Denver have many who are not even in shelters! I'm sorry for this missing child & wonder why it isn't taken up more broadly. Surely the disappearance of anyone counts. We recently had a mother tried for the death of her two children, left unattended while she visited a bar. They died of the car fumes; she left the motor running to keep them warm. She got ten years only. Clearly children are not as valued. And of homeless ones, we don't hear much, just numbers. Thanks for sharing this, Maureen. I'm sad for you too.

  7. I too have been thinking and praying for her since I heard this story. I get so emotional just thinking about Relisha. Just thinking about how much she has suffered throughout her life. Why? Why must these children suffer? Why are they so invisible? I just get so upset, angry and scared. How many more Relisha's? How many more before we make some major changes? Thanks for posting this Maureen. Thanks so much!

  8. Beautifully and heartbreakingly written. You get to the heart of it so simply. It blows my mind that so much of this city lives in invisible, hungry, neglected pain. Once I get more established in my own school, I want to figure out how to reach out to and support the parts of this city that never get a voice.
    I live with a cop Cadet and have heard stories of the search firsthand. Heartwrenching. Disheartening.