Monday, 18 February 2013
My First Shock When Working With Street Kids
This is the first realization that I had after I arrived in São Paulo after leaving my job and country to help kids that I was sure were desperately wanting people to come and give them a chance at escaping their situations. But the truth is that they don't want to be off the streets. All these 7, 8 ,9-year-olds are quite satisfied with the life they've grown accustomed to, irrespective of the fact that it ends 50 years shorter than the average life. They may never have an education, a family, a happy home, professional respect or a 21st birthday, but the appeal of this life on the street over shadows any pursuit that we would deem valuable or important in this life.
Why? What is keeping them so shut off from the truth that they are not better off on the streets?
I volunteer at a rescue house for street kids. We have 7 kids in the house at the moment, even though there are hundreds on the street in the city. Even more, now, because of the new year. We just received a new boy, who we'll call "M", who had run away from an abusive home situation and was desperate to stay as far away from home as possible. This makes our work a lot harder, because we have to find his family without his help, now, and try work with their indifferences while housing him and reassuring him we're on his side. M is very quiet, and avoids any physical contact with anybody. He seems to have started trusting me, because I don't try get too close to him.
So I asked him, "do you like it here?"
"I like some of it."
"What don't you like?"
"They make us eat tomatoes."
He then runs away from me. Just this conversation was too much too soon. But it showed a small insight into why a rescue house is less attractive than the street. On the street, nobody makes you do anything. You can do whatever you want.
Who are we to judge? The mere mention of the name, "Jesus", puts many of us on immediate defense. Yet God created us and loves us and simply wants the best long term plan for us, right? But we know that if we truly turn to God, He's going to ask us to do things that go against what we want right now. He's going to ask us to leave this immediate freedom we feel, and do things that require self-control, discipline, respect.
If you haven't reached the conclusion of this point already, let me help. Freedom without God is blind-sighted and secretly an inescapable prison of chains. I can personally vouch for that. A life that follows the 'rules' of God is the pursuit of true freedom. Free from addiction, free from pain, depression and death.
I watch M run away, and my heart is filled with joy. He gives us a lot of trouble at the house because of how cut off he is right now, but he's not on the streets anymore. He found one of our volunteers, and begged them to find him a home. They gave him their number and he phoned them every single day until we had sorted out the paperwork to take him in. He's lost the street's independence, highs and freedom, but he's gained a future of hope, potential and freedom.