Alright, i don’t want to be too gross on here, but i guess part of this experience is to learn, and share, all the different aspects of street life (especially in context with why the streets are not appropriate for children to live on), as “real” as they might be. This one is pretty gritty! I woke up this morning and my stomach was not happy. I realised something i had eaten yesterday made my stomach runny. Unfortunately, it was 6:00 AM. The public toilets on the Parade don’t open until 7:00 AM! Fortunately, i wanted to come to the Internet cafe to write this blog and i knew i could use this toilet (an option that the kids would not actually have). That also meant i had to walk a bit further.
As i walked i could feel my unhappy stomach trying to relieve itself as quickly as possible. I pinched like i never have before. I made it to the toilet, BUT someone had urinated ALL over the seat. “Oh man!!!! I don’t think i can hold it long enough to clean it off!”. I got it cleaned off just in time for the explosion that followed! HA! I know, i am sorry! Too much information!! But i guess that is one of the many realities of street life that has just become very real to me! What if i had not have made it? I only have this one pair of pants!!! What if i would have had to wait until 7:00 AM? I don’t think i could have held off! Anyways, that’s not even what i wanted to write about this morning, but i did want to share that with you.
One thing that i have always seen as a positive and negative of street life is the “live by the day” mentality that comes with it. I mean, it is good because some people spend their entire lives collecting “things” that they think will make them happy, and they don’t, but they horde and they horde until they die, and then the stuff stays, and they move on. On the other side however, it has always been difficult for me in the past, working with the kids that come off the streets, trying to teach them values of saving money, thinking ahead and not acting so spontaneously. Street life is very spontaneous. Life just “happens”. Many of the kids act impulsively, not thinking of the consequences, maybe because that action could be their very last. Why save money from today when someone is going to steal it in the night? Last night i got a taste of why it does not always pay off to “save” things on the streets.
For those of you that don’t know, yesterday was Thanksgiving in the States. And i have some American friends here that like to celebrate it. One of those friends had told me that back in the States her and her mother always take food to homeless people on Thanksgiving, and she said she would bring me something when i am here on the streets. So she came last night and brought Wise and I too lovely bags of goodies!! I am talking a whole chicken, a loaf of bread, some candy, peanut butter, apples, soap, pain tablets and more! It was like Christmas! She found us at our sleeping place and we were already asleep, so she said it would keep until the morning. Wise and i looked forward to a nice breakfast, AND lunch!
We knew the rats were on the prowl so i put the bags under a crate. We then returned to la la land. This morning when we woke up, we wanted to take a look at the goodies in the morning light and we noticed little pieces of plastic bag laying all around the bags. And each bag had its own hole. The rats has figured a way into our “refrigerator” crate!! (i thought i felt something crawling over me in the night) They has eaten about half the whole chicken and nibbled on every single piece of bread! Wise said we shouldn’t eat the other half of the chicken because the rats carry diseases and he has seen people get very sick from eating food that rats have nibbled on. So we salvaged what we could and fed the rest to the birds. I am pretty excited to use the soap!
Anyways, all of that to say, though i always understood the “live by the day” mentality, i have never really been in a position where i have really and truly had to live by that philosophy. I think there are lessons to learn on both sides. Again, if our children grow up on the streets with the “live by the day” mentality, it makes it harder for them to later reintegrate into society if or when they come off the streets; they act spontaneously and often cannot grasp the concept of “saving”. But on the other side, those people that have an abundance of “stuff”, and they continue just to collect more, and are looking to that for happiness…i am here to tell you, the rats are real, and your stuff will just end up getting eaten one day or another! I guess we can all learn from this!