Living happily ever after

Sometimes, even though you try your best to help, people do not always live happily ever after. Svenn tells about some of his challenges working with street children in Bolivia:
I was sitting on the grass with my first-aid kit in my right hand. It was deadly hot as usual, so the shadow from the gigantic building behind me was more than appreciated. I was working, and as you might know my work contains of two parts. Walking and talking. And now I was telling a 13 year old boy what he could do if he left the street. How his future could be like. How happy his life can and will be if he choose to leave. All he have to do is to say - Yes, I’ll try my best to change myself. I was telling him about the homes he could go to. All the things he could learn. I tried my best to help him think. Help him understand and to take the right decision.

The thing is that he had decided earlier that day to leave the street together with a friend. When they were about to leave he had changed his mind. Both his friend and I really wanted him to go, but he said no again and again. That was when I started to talk with him....

When I finished talking he looked at me. Staring into my eyes. Then slowly looking down starting to draw a long line in the sand. We were sitting like that for a few moments. Waiting. But the message he was sending was obvious . I said to myself:
-He’s not going to say yes. In fact, he’s not going to say anything at all. I told him what I say too many times a day.
- You think about it, and if you need anything at all. You let me know, okay? He left the scene going back to his home. His home underground.

I want to tell you one thing with this story. And that is that the reality of working with street children is harsh and difficult. I’ve told you earlier about both how street children become street children and how it is to be a street child. What I want you to know with this post is to tell you my own reality with the street children. From the point of view I see them every day.

I can tell you that “And he lived happily ever after” is a rare thing in this work. The kids doesn’t come running saying that they want to leave the street, nor is it possible to take all of them to an orphanage or something similar. The street is not what it looks like. In fact It’s a harsh and unfair underworld. It’s a world full of drugs and abuse. It’s a world the kids get addicted to. That’s the reality. It’s not a movie. It’s real. Fully real.

And my work is to get the kids to choose to leave this world. How is it possible? I have found that a big part of the answer is faithfulness and trust. First, you have to be there. Be there to show them that you win if you choose to leave. Be there to be a positive person in the middle of their reality. A person who understands. Understands their reality. Their world. Second, you have to get them to trust you. This you do both by fulfilling the faithfulness part, and show them that you want only good things for them. You play with them, laugh with them and talk with them. You give your person to them. You give all you have and you don’t let them down. Never.

I turned my face against the other boy. The friend of the boy who just had went back underground. The boy next to me, who had been washing windshields for months, was now ready to leave the street. He was ready to change. To live a better life. He started walking with me against the bus with hope and dreams in his eyes. Meeting his new future. This is what makes this work worth the effort. You do not make things. You make futures and lives.

Read more: Thoughts from Bolivia

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