Uniting Brazil (intro)

Updates on the Brazilian mission

Monday, 18 February 2013

My First Shock When Working With Street Kids

All these homeless kids living on the street don't want to be 'rescued'.
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.

With the benefit of having a healthy upbringing, as most of us have had (and lets be honest, your family may have had issues, but if you're sitting here reading this, you're educated, with access to technology, thus money, education and opportunities. You've had a comparatively healthy upbringing) we know that a certain amount of rules is good. It teaches discipline, respect, self control and shows maturity. But that's the long term effects, and the alternative option these street kids have is immediate freedom from rules. Even if it means sleeping with dog blankets under a bridge on rainy nights. How can they not see that this is not a good long-term plan? What may feel like freedom right now is actually the very chains that are going to end their life short. This freedom will prevent any chance of a healthy life.

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.