I have started reading “Nothing but a Thief” by Danielle Speakman. She worked with street kids in Lima, Peru. I was drawn to the book because even though I feel like I somehow know the boys at home, I don’t feel like I know enough about street kids in general. I wondered if certain things were just characteristics of these boys, or of all street kids. I wondered if life was the same for kids on the street everywhere. What I am realizing is the country is unimportant. From the stories she shares, these boys could be boys in Peru and the boys in Peru could be here in Uganda.
The boys don’t always like to share about their lives on the streets. Especially now that they have been removed from that environment, many of them want to forget that they were ever there. They go to extremes to forget their past life and I cannot say I blame them. When you ask them about their life or their story, they never give specifics. They will only offer that they suffered or were beaten. They don’t speak with emotion, but rather like they are recounting about a movie they once saw.
Even though the boys refuse to share specifics, I can guess what has happened to them. I see the scars on their hearts and feel their anger as they lash out. I experience the aftereffects of years of abuse and trauma. I don’t need to hear the specifics to know that they are broken inside. I have started reading these books to know how to help the boys better. I know that there are people smarter than me and with more experience, and I figure I owe it to the boys to find all of the information possible to help them.
In the book, she tells about a boy that she realized was always around but she just noticed him that particular day. I can say that the same thing has happened to me many times. I can think of two boys, Willy and Jimmy, at least that that was the case with but I know there were others. They were always around but something made me notice them on particular days and from that moment, I was in love. She hasn't explained why she thought she finally noticed him on that particular day, but for me I know it was God that opened my eyes to them. He let me see them when He knew I was ready to see them. God’s timing is always perfect, and I saw them at the exact time when they needed to be seen.
It is comforting and disturbing at the same time to know that there are other people around the world, working with boys like these ones, experiencing the exact same things that I am. It is disturbing because I know only a small portion of these boys’ stories, but yet I know how gravely they suffered. Multiply that suffering by all of the other boys, in the world, on the street and it seems unimaginable that the world can function with that much pain…
I tried to explain to someone today about my laptop and how I wasn't angry at the boy. I tried to explain that his behavior was a result of suffering and everyone in his life betraying him but she couldn't get it. It isn't easy allowing brokenness into your life, but beauty that comes out of it is so worth it. I think you can only understand that when you let the brokenness in and see the redemption first hand. I know that in time, this boy will come around again. We will love him even more than we did before and eventually, he will believe he is worthy of the love. He will begin to heal and trust. Things will be different for him, because we never gave up.
In the book, she talks about waiting for a certain boy to meet her and him refusing to show up several times. Each time he had an excuse and each time her heart broke. She equated it to how God waits on us. He is waiting for us day after day, but each day we disappoint Him. We come just close enough but then run away or make excuses because our shame is weighing us down. It makes sense. This boy is so hurting and broken that he doesn't believe that we really love him or maybe he does know and that terrifies him more because he doesn't believe he deserves it. Whatever the reason, I will continue to wait because I know beautiful things will even come from him.