Saturday, August 20, 2011

The rollercoaster ride of working with street kids

Yesterday was a special day.  There were 3 main events that were so far from each other on the happiness scale that it left me confused as to how I should feel.   Sorry it is a long post.

A lady that I know here has been working really hard to find sponsors for a few boys so she can put them in a home.  Well she found all 8 sponsors and yesterday was the lucky day for 6 boys(1 hasn't been decided and the other I don't really know) that I know and love so much.

She chose Mathias and I couldn't be happier.  Mathias is a funny kid that never stops.  He is probably 15 years old and is so smart but you would never know it.  He is a jokester and refuses to speak English.  He knows English very well and understands everything that is said to him but he always responds in Luganda.  He can read the Bible perfectly in English and translate. How he talks is also so funny.  He is always slurring his words and sounds drunk.  He probably reached 5 or 6 grade.  He is definitely one of my favorites but because he is rarely serious, I never thought he would get a chance.  One of the last things that happened with him yesterday was I was chewing gum and he told me that he was sick and the gum would make it better.  I knew he wouldn't like it because it was mint and most people here don't like mint or cinnamon flavored things, but I gave it to him anyway.  He looked like he was in pain to chew it.  He then tells the uncle near by that he doesn't know what I  gave him because obviously what I am chewing is so sweet and I gave him something so sour.  I am so happy he is home but I am going to miss him like crazy at programs.  His jokes and unseriousness always put a smile on my face.

Two other boys Moses and Matthew, I am so happy for also.  Matthew has had a bit of a downward spiral in his behavior and so I thought he would never get a chance either.  I know he was angry and bitter because when we first started programs back to 5 days a week, he was one of the best behaved kids, but he saw many other boys get chances and he was always overlooked.  He turned into a mess and all he ever wanted to do was fight and quarrel with everyone.  I am glad she is taking the chance on him because I know he can rise to the occasion.  Moses is one of the sweetest boys.  He hasn't been on the streets for so long but I am glad he is going home.  Funny thing about Mathias and Moses is they look identical and they swear they are not related and come from different parts of the country.  They look so much alike that for a while I couldn't tell them apart unless they were next to each other.

The other 2 boys, Peter and Musa, are boys that were working making paper beads.  Now they will have a chance to go back to school and do something that they love.  I will also miss their jokes and laughs at the uncle's house but I am so happy they are getting the chance to go to school.  


The last boy, Nelson, has been working on the land to build the new boys' home.  He has been working so hard there and everyone loves him.  He is a quiet kid and well behaved and cannot fight with anyone.  His real name is Patrick but everyone calls him Nelson or Mandela because he is so quiet and passive.  He worked so hard on the land because he really wanted to go back to school and an aunt told him she would match his money for school fees.  Now he actually gets a real home and gets to go to school.  I am so happy he is in a home with someone from his hometown(he doesn't speak Luganda so has a difficult time communicating but he speaks English well) and I know he will do great things.

Semanda is on the left

I hope you are still with me....

After the boys were taken to their new home, I took a few kids to the clinic and found out that some boys were arrested the night before.  I was told that they were taken to a remand home.  This place is awful, there are too many kids there, it is not regulated, outsiders aren't allowed, it is basically a prison for kids.  Two of the boys that were taken were David and Semanda.  David is one of my favorites and I love Semanda a lot also (I wrote about them both the night I took Tom to dinner.  They seem to be best friends and are always together).  My heart is broken for both of them.  They are in a terrible place and it will probably take them some time to be able to escape, if they are able to at all.  About 2 months ago, the police came and arrested about 200 street kids and that is where they took them.  I still have not seen some of those kids since.  I have been told by other boys that have been there(most boys have been there several times if they have been on the streets for a long time) that for the first week you only get beatings for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I am not sure if they were exaggerating or not but even the thought of it being even half true...For kids that are already traumatized and have had a lifetime of abuse, this could really push them over the edge.  David is a very fragile kid mentally, physically he is a fighter, and is already struggling with believing anyone could love him and he is worth something.  I am so sad because I probably won't see them before I leave and when I get back, they might not be the same  kids, if they are even able to escape by then.  Please be praying for them.  Pray that they are able to escape quickly and that they would be the same kids that I fell in love with when they return.

Semanda is on the left and David is behind

The terrible news of David and Semanda definitely took away from some of the excitement of the other boys going home.  It left me feeling angry, heartbroken, and confused.  I am beyond happy and grateful that 6 more boys are off of the streets and for all the people working here trying to make a difference but I am angry for David and Semanda.  They shouldn't be on the streets.  Now they shouldn't be in prison just because they don't have a home and people here don't care that they are just kids and they need to be taken care of.  It makes me feel like there are so many kids and I can only do so little and kids that I love so much are suffering and I can do nothing.  I know that is just the enemy trying to discourage me so I give up.  In my heart, I know they will be fine.  I know they will return to us.  I know this because God is good.  He loves them way more than I ever could and He will make sure of it.  Just like He provided for the 6 other boys I love so much, He will provide for David and Semanda.

Don't stop reading yet...

The last event was a boy named Tom.  I have had so many problems with Tom.  One day, he was so mad at me and hit me so hard on my arm I had a huge bruise.  Tom can be an angel and be so well behaved, but he can also be a nightmare.  To say I am cautious  towards him is an understatement.   I love him dearly but it is difficult to know how he will be.  One of Tom's main problems is he likes a drug called chenge.  He likes it so much, his nickname is chenge chenge.  We always have problems because I will take it from him and he gets SO mad, but I keep taking it anyway.  He was living at a home but he said the uncle there beat them so he left and is now staying in Kisenyi (probably the worst place in Kampala.  It is a slum but 100 times worse than where we work.)  He was walking with me when I was taking the kids to the clinic and was telling me all sorts of things.  When I found out he was staying in Kisenyi, I told him I didn't want him there and I didn't want him doing chenge.  He said he wasn't but as we were talking more, he told me he couldn't stay in Kivulu because if the uncle from the house saw him he was scared he would beat him.  I told him if he goes to Kisenyi and does chenge I would beat him.  What he said next was the most surprising thing ever.  He asked, "you would beat me if I did chenge?" and I told him, "yes, it is so bad for you and I don't want you doing it."  To which he replied, "well you are my mother."

Working with these kids is the most amazing thing I have ever done.  They bring me so much joy.  They have taught me so many things, especially about love, trust, and family.  At the same time, my heart has never been so broken.  Working with these kids is an emotional roller coaster and yesterday was the perfect example.  There are always amazing things happening with these kids and at the same time you watch kids you love so much make the worst decisions ever for themselves and you don't know how to feel.  One minute your happy, the next heartbroken.  But through it all I have joy and love...

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