I remember very clearly the first time I met Vincent. It was actually his very first day in the slums. He had just left home and found his way to Kivulu. He was wearing a blue soccer jersey. I was hanging out after programs playing with some of the kids and chatting with the uncles. It was starting to get dark, so I was trying to leave. The boys didn't want me to go, so they tried everything they could to keep me there. Even though Vincent was new, he jumped right in. After much laughter, screaming, and trying to run away the boys finally relented and I made my way home.
Vincent is really quiet and I cannot remember really seeing him hanging out with any of the other boys on the streets. I am sure he did, but I just don't remember who. with most of the boys I would tell you which boys they were always around, but I don't remember with him.
When he got to programs, he had a huge smile. He wasn't on the streets for very long when he showed up to programs with scrapes all over his face and a missing front tooth. I felt so sad for him that day. He said he was running and playing when he fell. His lip was so swollen and I am sure it was excruciatingly painful. Now when he smiles, he has a gap. It is rather cute but I am sure he misses his tooth.
Vincent became friends with one of the uncles at the programs. The uncle is in charge of cooking. When his roommate decided to move out, he didn't have anywhere to go so I offered him a place to live in the mean time. At that time, we were living right out side of the slums and it was really convenient for him. Vincent would often follow the uncle around and help him cook. So one day when the uncle came home, Vincent stayed to watch a movie and get food. I went to bed and didn't really expect to see him there in the morning.
Well...he was still there.
No big deal. sometimes some of the boys would stay the night and leave the next morning, so I didn't really think anything of it.
Next morning? Yep, still there.
So I asked the uncle what was going on with Vincent and what he wanted. He said that the streets were hard for him and he thought he was just tired.
Next morning? Yep, still there.
At this point we were used to having him around. We sat him down and had a serious talk with him about what he wanted, his family, and what we should do moving forward. He told us he didn't want to go home or to school, but he would love if he could train to be a mechanic. So we told him, if he could show us he was serious and had good behavior, he could stay with us and we would send him to train.
He has been with us ever since. He is laid back and easy going. He is pretty quiet so normally he isn't shouting along with the other boys. he is always respectful and tries to be very responsible. He just went back to visit his family after being gone for over a year. The reunion was a success and he asked me the last time we talked if he could visit again. Who knows? Maybe one day he will chose to stay there. for now, he is still learning English and Math, but by the start of next year, I think he will be ready to go to a garage and start learning.