hi there! i’m ashley, ryan’s wife. i’m incredibly proud of what my husband is doing over these next 16 days. since he left home yesterday morning, i’ve thought of him many times. and my phones have been ringing off the hooks. i have 2 things i want to write about.
i remember when i first moved to cape town. i started working in a project with about 15 kids who had run away from home and were starting to live on the streets of muizenberg, just outside of cape town. i remember the shock and anguish i went through those first few weeks. each time i rained, i was in tears. each time it was too hot outside, i was thinking those kids would melt or die of heat. each time i laid in my nice warm bed, i thought of the hard concrete ground their little bodies laid upon. each time i indulged in a hearty meal, i thought of their stomachs filled with chips and sweets, a diet void of nutrients that a growing boy needs.
my journal was my closest friend. i spent hours dumping my thoughts, worries, concerns, obsessiveness onto those pages. i went to bed most nights in tears, totally torn up over the injustice of it all.
as i got to know the families of these kids, i realized some of the reasons why they had run away. alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic violence, poor education system–there were so few structures and “pluses” of staying at home. each kid had at least one parent on drugs. each kid had been abused, most of the sexually. i saw mom’s hit their kids, swear at their kids, throw food at their kids each time they tried going home. i started realizing that, in the kids minds, it wasn’t a toss-up decision of home or street…street life was freedom, independence, and a chance to not be hurt by those closest to you.
my constant thinking of the kids physical needs subsided and i started thinking deeper, past the outside and into the roots of their problems.
all this is to say that there is a silent anguish buried within each of them. a small child wanting love and boundaries. a confused kid who has seen too much for their age. a child among many, born to a young mother who cannot care for herself, much less a kid. i began to think so often about that silent anguish, the pain so strong and deep that life became a constant attempt to numb that pain. the rejection, the carelessness, the meaninglessness of it all.
that’s why i believe is people like ryan, gerald, lindsay…some of the writers on this blog. people who walk the daily road with these kids, who aren’t afraid of that darkness.
i urge each of you readers to reconsider your actions to those less fortunate than yourself. imagine a world where you were never hugged, loved, encouraged, touched, fed, or taught the ways of life. imagine being truly alone in the world. and the next time you see a kid in need, stop and allow yourself to be changed by his situation. be brave enough to enter the anguish he carries.