Let me tell you, I love, loovvveee these former street boys I am working with. I just love them. The younger ones especially, but all of them really. I love playing with them, painting with them, teaching them to draw, trying to talk with them, sharing my headphones, giving them my camera. I can’t wait until I can have a conversation. Oh what a glorious day that will be!
It’s not all cupcakes and roses of course. Sometimes they run away or steal. Get in fights. Beat each other. They can be incredibly whiny and selfish. They usually moan when its time for art, even thought I know for a fact that most of them really like it. They really don’t say thank you all that much or ever. But there are beautiful moments of grace and love that I see each day. One of the older boys taking time to joke around and play with a younger one. Offering me cool water to drink instead of my warm water bottle. Cheering for each other in the group soccer game. Taking care of the puppy they have adopted. Giving another boy the last bite of their food. Taking care of one of the boys who broke his foot. Without being asked, without conversation or comment, just picking him up and moving him to where everyone else is going. Taking paintbrushes from my hand and washing them out for me. I took my shoes off one day to play soccer and a boy took his flip flops off and offered them to me because the field has stones and thorns. How’s that for putting others before yourself?
They (usually) patiently repeat themselves so I can figure out what they’re saying. They laugh when I shrug my shoulders in resignation when I really have no idea what they’re saying. They ask about the next time we are painting or drawing. When I walk in the gate at least one boy usually says “Eliza” (that’s what they call me) and smile. (Which oh so warms my heart). They enthusiastically ask me if I am going to play soccer with them that night. Certain ones love to sit with me and show me how to write arabic words or to learn to draw certain things. They make me laugh. The youngest boy is always a dusty mess. The other day I could hear him yelling and crying (which sounds very similar to how he laughs) so I asked what was up. One of the older boys told me that some of the boys had to force this littlie to bathe. He wasn’t actually hysterical, just putting up a fight. A bit cute, actually.
We think that he has some developmental issues. His mom is a prostitute and brews illicit whiskey. She drinks a lot and for sure she did while she was pregnant. He is the smallest boy and gets picked on. But…he asks for it a lot. He’ll do things like pick up the ball that other kids are playing with and run off with it. But they love him, at least from what I can see. He’s like everyones little brother.
There is a lot more going on than what is on the surface though. Most of the boys there now have been at the centre for at least a year. Almost all were addicted to glue and other drugs when they came in. They have been through serious trauma, all of them. Their families are all broken in some way. The staff at the centre is amazing. They are wonderful. But they are mostly men (which is good and appropriate) and there are only like 2 there at any given time. Which again, is appropriate for the situation. But it does mean that these boys aren’t being parented in a traditional sense. I’m not saying its bad or whatever. Just not ideal.
When I interned in Guatemala and left after 2.5 months my heart broke leaving those kids. I cried for weeks thinking about them. I pleaded with God to watch over them and to send me to a place where I could love kids and not have to leave them. A big part of me coming here is a strong sense that as a Christian I have a responsibility to care for the orphan, the fatherless, the one who has no voice. I felt and still do feel like I have to do something to care for the kids who are suffering majorly. Right now for these boys who’s mothers for whatever reason can’t mother them, I want to do what I can. Be a surrogate big sister, a teacher, a friend, whatever. Use the gift of art for therapy, connecting, and hopefully enrich their lives somehow.
I miss them on the 2 days a week I don’t go. I already want to be a part of their lives and watch them grow up.
But what I feel is dedicated–dedicated to these boys and doing everything I can to help them grow into Godly men; to see truth, feel loved, and be well cared for.
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedon as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galations 5:13-14