Thursday, 6 August 2009

The Kids

Finally I have something to write about.

After talking about doing it for so long, I finally did some volunteer work with street children yesterday. As I was driving home last night I asked myself why I hadn’t been doing this my whole life. I could’ve been volunteering for the last ten years if I had really wanted to. But it occurred to me that I am probably of more use to them now than I ever would’ve been before.

Because now I am more tolerant, more patient, I have my own child, so I know what it is they need instinctively.

I am less idealistic, more practical and more in touch with reality, so I know what can be achieved and what cannot.

I am more willing to give, and less expectant. I am more aware of how the world works, so I can be of more use to them maybe through my work, maybe through just being there, who knows what will come?

It is very early days. I don’t even know if I will see any of those same kids again, but I hope I will. I hope they will come to recognize me, and know me as a friend.

Where do I start?
I was nervous, anxious. I was worried on our way to them in the ambulance equipped with doctor and social worker, hearing horror stories, wondering how they would react to me - another complete stranger trying to interfere in their lives.

We parked the van and they came running, all smiles and handshakes and high fives, and questions and energy.

Bareeza, he’s about 15 but he looks smaller. He can recite his ABCs, constantly wanting to play games, and constantly needs attention and physical contact.

Ramadan, barefoot, hasn’t been in school since the 2nd grade, and cleans cars for a living as do many of the others.

Hend, girl of around 15, harder and stronger than any man I’ve seen, yet really self conscious about her missing front tooth; she has a lovely face.

Asma’a, tiny little girl, who says she’s 12 but somehow I don’t believe her – showed me the proper way to say goodbye with her own special handshake. Bundle of energy.

Mohamed is 17, carries a little pink comb and tells a story of how he ran away from his town amid extremely violent clashes. Painted a picture in my mind of a village on fire, and then began to sing in a melodic voice. He is barely literate. He dreams of spending Ramadan with his parents and tells me how his dad only beats him if he doesn’t stick up for himself.

These are just a few of the kids I met yesterday. I wonder now how I can be of help to them. What can I learn or do to make things easier? Because really and truly, that’s probably the only impact I can make, I can’t take anything they’ve experienced away, I can only make it easier to take.

I know as a child sometimes you just need guidance, you need hope, you need someone to tell you everything is possible, that you are worth something; that life is there for the taking.

These kids just need to feel like they are still human beings with a chance of a satisfactory life. Promising them a good life maybe overly optimistic.

1 comment:

madwomaninatic said...

I miss those kids!!! Even though they have such hard lives, they're so alive and live in the present moment to the extent that I actually felt happy when I left them despite the fact that they've been through a lot, and instead of feeling "sorry" for them, I really enjoyed their company. I actually feel there's a lot for me to learn from them! Even though I wish I could do something more practical to help them get off the street.

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