I left Honduras on Tuesday without having been able to talk to Carlos or Antony, the other 50%. Sigh.
The next day I received an email titled:
“Ummm can you call me?”
I opened it to find this picture.
The email began like this:
“Don’t ask me how it happened, and don’t ask me what I’m planning on doing next…but I couldn’t leave them…”
Jilli (wonderful, crazy Jilli) had gone to talk to Carlos and Antony and ended up bringing them back to her apartment, much to the chagrin of her roommate.
I do not encourage or advocate for people to find kids on the street and bring them home. There are many reasons why this is not a great idea. But just like there are stages of grief or stages of…other things that I can’t think of right now, I’m starting to think that there are stages in working with street kids. You meet a child in a children’s home and he starts to matter to you. Then you find out what brought him to the street as well as what he has experienced while there and you feel completely overwhelmed and more than a little paralyzed. You may spend large amounts of time crying. Then you find one of these children who matter to you on the street and everything seems pretty black and white. Child…sleeping…on the street. And you say to yourself, “Yeah, this needs to not be the reality that is currently in front of me.” And you have that extra mattress in your house. So you bring them home. (I feel like I’m writing the next installment of ‘If You Give a Mouse a Cookie’ .) You know this isn’t a permanent fix, but you also know that saying goodnight and good luck to this child as you return to your comfy home is not an option. Edgar, the first child I found on the street, spent a lovely evening at Yann’s home with me two years ago. (Read about it here.) Yann – I’m still so grateful for your acceptance of this little visitor.
As time goes on, you realize it isn’t a good idea to fill your home with transient guests and you learn how to let a kid walk away. Or if he does want to go back to the home he ran from, you learn to say “Ok, meet me here tomorrow morning at 9”, and you hope and pray that nothing will happen to him before then. It’s been more than a year since I’ve even considered bringing a child home. And even though this is the ‘smart’ thing to do, it does make me disappointed in myself that I’ve learned to do this with little more than a shake of my head and a sigh of resignation.
Strong disclaimer over.
Back to Jilli and the boys sleeping on her air mattress.
If you bring kids home with you, you absolutely know that you can’t leave them alone in your house as you go to work, so you bring them along with you, to the preschool classroom in which you work. (Can you even IMAGINE this happening in the States? The story would read something like “And since you no longer have a job, you decide to spend all of your free time looking for kids.”) The boys sat in the back of the classroom and busied themselves making bracelets while Jilli taught and worried about what to do. They had spent a significant amount of time the night before looking at pictures and reminiscing about the ‘good times’ in Proniño. The conversations were getting cyclical. “Do you want to spend the rest of your life on the street?” (No.) “Do you want to make good decisions in your life?” (Yes.) “Do you want to go back to Proniño? (No.) “So, you want to spend the rest of your life on the street?” (No.)
There was a glimmer of hope in the wee hours of the morning when Antony confidently decided that he wanted to go back (Yaay!) Only to change his mind a few hours later. (Boo!) The cyclical conversations continued throughout the bus ride back to San Pedro, except that Antony was now crying. At the stop where they needed to change buses Jilli headed to Proniño. Carlos and Antony headed back to the street.
Jilli was feeling quite glum, until she got a phone call that evening. Antony. “Jilli, I’ve changed my mind. I want to go back to Proniño. Can you come get me?” But there were a few problems. A) It was dark. B) Jilli was an hour away from San Pedro. C) Jilli does not have a car. D) It being dark deserves to be on here twice. She explained all this to him and said she’d come the next morning. She then proceeded to sleep, um, nearly not at all, then headed for San Pedro early in the morning. The highlights of the next few hours include the moment when Antony announces that he won’t be able to use drugs in Proniño and ceremonially dumps his tube of glue in the trash as well as when they were eating breakfast and Antony sighs and says, “Can we go to Proniño now?”
Wonderful crazy Jilli and Antony upon returning. AWWWW.
75% of the original 4 are back.
And what a silly one the third one is.
(This is part 3 of a 4 part story. Click here for part 4.)