Becoming a street child

It is hard working with street children. Sometimes you feel helpless, thinking about all the children you are not able to help. Svenn shares some thoughts about his work and how children end up on the street:
Why! I can hear the word in my head over and over again. Why! It won't stop. It is there all the time. I am trying to sleep, but I can’t. My problem is that I’m thinking. Thinking about the children that is sleeping just a few minutes from my door. They are outside. I am in my bed. Here, right now, and I can’t even do a little thing about it. I’m thinking about injustice. Thinking about poverty. I am thinking about the world, and myself in all of it. I can’t find the answer. My head is just a mess. I stay awake more than two hours in my bed. Just thinking...

I’ve now worked a long time in the street, and I would like you to get a share of how it it’s like. I would first like you to know how it might be to live in the street. It is impossible to give you the entire picture, but I will try my best to give you something.

First of all I want you to imagine yourself going to another world. A world called the street. This is not the world as you know it. It is a harsh and ruff world. Almost constantly rude to you. And this you have to live with if you like it or not. You are a kid. Maybe about ten years old and you do not have a home. At least not a home you can go to without getting beaten or abused by your angry and drunk father.

It all started very slow. You first went to the street to work. You went because at home your family didn’t have any money for food and you had to earn some money for the family. After school you took your windshield cleaning kit and went to the city to earn a few cents. Then coming back home late in the night tired or more correctly exhausted . You did this for a long time. But then things started to be very bad at home, and your father started to abuse you. You didn’t longer want to stay at home. Home was now the same as being in prison.

You had started to make friends in the intersection where you worked and they had different type of drugs to help you forget all the problems at home. You knew they lived in the street, but that didn’t mind you now. You tried there drugs ones and you forgot all your problems. It was so good. You could fall to sleep dreaming about the time you were happy. An escape from the reality.

After this you started to be with the street kids instead of working in the day. This made things just worse at home. Less money meant more beating. But it was worth it. The feeling of escaping all of it with sniffing glue or taking drugs made it all worth the pain.

After a few days you stopped going home, because it was better to just be in the street. Here you had friends. Even some of the older boys had offered to protect you! All you had to do was just to bring a few things to him every day. Just a few cent or something and he would protect you against all the danger of the street. This was a really good deal and you accepted. You were now a part of a street family.

In your new family you learned how to rob. How to hide from the police. How to beg in the best way and how to speak the street language. All this made you more confident in yourself. More grown-up. Sometimes the police took you and hit you hard. A lot harder then your father used to do, but you had the glue to make you forget all the pain.

You were now a real street kid.

From Thoughts from Bolivia

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