Today. Today was rough. I started the day with my eighth consecutive freezing cold shower. I have been sick, and the medication they put me on seems to be making my headaches worse, my bathroom trips more often and I have this terrible taste of metal in my mouth that I can't get rid of. Basically- I started the day grumpy. I almost didn't go to Kabanana this afternoon, because of this headache that seems to want to persist 24/7... but I decided to just go for an hour- collect some info for my files then go full day tomorrow and Friday (I took the begining of the week off due to collapsing and sickness- and being told not to drive or work for 5-7 days. Yea right.)
Anyway, I sucked it up and went, and picked up Fanny and Maureen and we started the day. When I got there we first went to the home of the mother/auntie to four of the new kids we just added. We were getting some background info on the kids... two of whom there is no birth record and so no one knows their birthday or actual age. One of them has had sores since he was six months old. They come and go, and are now spreading throughout his body. I asked, in the 14 years he has had this problem, if he'd been treated or seen by a doctor. Basically she said they take him to the little clinics around, but they continue to give him the same medication that clears it for a while then it comes back- and they just do the same thing over again.
We then went to find another of the boys so we could let him know his tutoring schedule. We got as far as we could in the car and the neighbor laughed and made jokes about how it's a rare day that we find his mother sober (she was intoxicated to the point of not being able to communicate last time we went). Noone was home, so we left instructions for them to be there to meet with us Friday. This boy is 15 years old and has barely completed grade 3, due to running out of money at that time. He has a twin sister who did even less, and has no intrest in learning or school. This boy has asked that we please please help him because he wants to learn. Basically no schools will let him in, he is mature and could pass for 16 or 17 and is at about a grade 2 level. Psychologically that is just to hard, on top of learning challenges, for any kid. We agreed that I'd tutor him for this year, in hopes that we could get him in a higher grade, maybe even 5 or 6... If Richard and Mwansa can bump two grades each in 3 months, there's no telling where we can get him. He has a young brother who I'd like to have sit in on the tutoring- they'd end up at about the same grade level. The mother, like I said, is a drunk. They live in a 1 bedroom house and she often entertains men there overnight- all 3 of the kids are obviously old enough to know what's going on. It's painful to know they are living in this kind of environment...
From there we were driving and Fanny told of someone she knows, a 17 or 18 year old boy who was trying to jump on the back of a truck and got caught and was litterally torn apart. She said they couldn't have a coffin or funeral... they just had to put him in a bag and bury him. After she said that, Maureen said... Yes, And we will be burying my landlord this weekend. I was shocked. I just met her last week. She gave birth to a baby two weeks ago and had complications. When I saw her last she had just returned from the hospital and was saying she was feeling better... now she is gone, and there's a 3 week old baby being shipped of to an auntie somewhere.
We decided to go to All Efforts Academy. We had 6 kids enrolled there two weeks ago and wanted to see how they were doing. Basically, we were told they were struggling and really needed the tutoring, but I was encouraged that one of the teachers said he could see the potential, it just needed to be coaxed out of them. Much improvement from their last teacher who basically left it at "they are dumb and lazy so it's not our fault". We were about to leave when the headmaster asked us why some of the kids were coming without lunches. We were shocked because we bought the families food to last the month for lunches. She also said they missed school, and the excuse was "no clean clothes". We told them that and said we'd address it with the guardian and work it out.
We then went to find the guardian. The mother is very innapropriate, constantly having a string of strange men over to spend the night or leaving them alone so she can go spend the night with someone else. (we are talking about a 10 and 8 year old left alone in an ungated house in the compound...) Anyway, she wasn't around so we went to see the older sister. She has been paying rent for the mom and the four kids we sponsor, and covering any other needs. She told us her husband just lost his only source of income and that she was not paying rent or providing anythong for her mother, because she is aware of her lifestyle. She confessed that she used the food we bought for the kids to feed her family, because they are also starving and she's had some of the other kids staying in her home. She kept saying "This is not an orphanage. My marraige is failing and my family is suffering." Basically, the mom is getting kicked out of the house, and where she goes she will not take the kids. She doesn't want them. The sister has also said she doesn't want them because they are causing nothing but trouble and pain in her life.
What.... what does one do in this situation? Four kids. noone wants to take care of them. No one wants them. All I want to do is lay our sleeping bags all over my floor and pick them all up and bring them to live here- to get them away from these awful influences in their lives. No wonder it's so hard for kids to get a good education and get out of the compounds when they have people who bring them down and tell them they are stupid and give them examples such as these... or worse litterally abandon them. How can you convey God's love to a child who sees nothing but Satan's evil filth all day.
We also had two of the boys we just put into better schools come to us and tell us they want to go to their old school and that they'd go to their old school for a year and THEN we could talk about switching them. After a day like today I was thinking, really? You haven't been in school for two years, and have not had steady food or clothing for longer because no one could pay for you- and here I am... an American who left her life and home and car and comforts and family behind to live in a tiny house and shower with cold water and have stomach problems every day and people are paying for a uniform and a backpack and lunch and clinic visits and shoes and socks and notebooks and textbooks and christmas presents and you come to us and say that this better school with a better education is not what YOU want because you're freinds aren't there and you tell us where you'll go. what?!
I have to remind myself that this is really like parenting. Lots of times, we have to say no and the kid gets mad and pouty and maybe even runs away but you have to do what's right for them anyway... because they don't know what they're talking about- they haven't experienced life and don't realize what they are getting themself into. At the same time... God has the same relationship with us. He can see the future and we pray and pray and ask for something... but if it's not good for us he doesn't give it. And years later we say ahhhh ok, that's why that prayer wasn't answered. Really- we are supposed to be praying "Your will be done, not mine"... in which case if we are praying according to God's word all prayers will always be answered!
Today was a sobering day. My headache is worse and I am worried and stressed and overwhelmed... but I am here. I am here to tutor and to hug and to minister and to drive kids to the clinic and to give health education and encourage and love and teach and preach and most of all... to convey God's love to these children. It is sickening that in four months I love some of these children more than their own mothers and blood realtives do. How is it that I care more about their lives and health and future than their mothers and sisters and aunts?
"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them- for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these"- Mark 10:13 I pray that I not only let them come, but rather am used as a catalyst.
I need prayer.
"For the poor will never cease to be in this land, therefore I command you saying "You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to the needy and the poor in this world." Deuteronomy 15:11 Yes, Father. I will.