I feel like a bit of a weirdo here in the Internet cafe right now! I sat down and began thinking about what i was going to write about and i just started crying. Even as i type now i am struggling to see the screen because of tears. Anybody that knows me knows i do not cry that much (not by choice), and so when i do cry it is obviously something significant! So what got me all teared up? Really something very simple i was thinking about this morning. I was just thinking about the different things i have seen on this journey and the way they have “moved” me. We can be “moved” by all sorts of different emotions. I specifically think back to just the last 12 hours…
I was moved when i met a friend on Long Street who was moved by what i am doing. He said he had duvets at his place for me to hand out to the guys. Me and Gregory went with him to his flat and he insisted on cooking us some food; even though he had very little in his fridge and cupboards, and in his own words, can’t cook (he asked me how to cook rice), he wanted to make me and Greg some food. When people that have little, give much, that is moving!
I was moved when i passed by the little kids that stroll on Long Street last night, back on a dark street, smoking rocks (crack). These kids are so addicted. I have always known it. I don’t want to mention names but two of them have been smoking rocks since they were 5 and 10 years old. They started smoking with their father. Now they are 13 and 17, but still look about 5 and 10 because of the hectic drug use over the past 8 years. To see children’s innocence robbed by the stupidity of adults, only to lead them to a life trapped in addiction is moving beyond words!
I was moved when i arrived back to my slaap plek (sleeping place) and Malibongwe was waiting for me there. I have known Malibongwe the entire time i have lived here but haven’t seen him in a long time! He hasn’t been in town for a while and has been living at home, but he came to town on Friday. I saw him at Crippie. When i got to the flower stand he was standing there like a worried parent. I asked him how he was and he said “not good!”. I asked him what was wrong and he said, “I’m angry”. I asked who he was angry at and he said, “Who do you think? I am angry at you!”. I asked him why and his eyes filled up with tears and he began to cry. He couldn’t speak at first. His eye wells reached their limit and some tears rolled down his face and he said, “I never thought i would see you like this! I don’t know you like this! I was shocked to see you here on the streets…when i see you at Crippie i just stare at you…it doesn’t even look like you! I don’t know you like this to live on the streets!” Obviously he had not been fully briefed about what exactly i was doing here. As he continued to cry and continued to try and gain composure, i explained to him why i was on the streets, and that is was only for 16 days. He seemed relieved, but was already in an emotional state and began to talk about the problems he has recently experienced at home (specifically with his step dad), which is why he came to town again. He doesn’t want to be here. But his step father doesn’t want him there, and makes his life miserable. To see someone who is walking through such a dark time show the compassion and concern that Malibongwe showed to me, last night, is really and truly moving!
I was moved by “Kleintjie” after he sniffed way too much glue last night. Kleintjie is one of the younger guys that sleeps near us. He is from an area called Clark Estate, which is renowned for gangsterism and violence; many of the kids in town come from there. Kleintjie is fairly new to town and is a really sweet kid but just needs someone in his life to be firm with him, love him and put him back on the right path. He is in town because “it’s lekker” (it’s nice), in his own words. I am sure it is more lekker than Clark Estate and the freedom town brings is addictive. I walked around with him the other night and we had a long chat about his life and future and past…in no particular order. So last night some of the older guys were sniffing glue and they gave some to Kleintjie. I had not seen him use glue before. As many kids as i have seen use glue, and as calloused as i am to it by now, it was strangely and deeply sad to see Kleintjie and the way the glue was effecting him. He called me over and tried to talk to me, hugged me, and then tried to talk some more but was not making much sense. He then asked me for one rand to go by some chips because he said he was hungry. I told him if he gave me the glue i would give him one rand. He looked down, carefully considered, and then decided to make the exchange. Though he stopped sniffing it, the effects of the glue lingered until he eventually passed out. Before that he just walked around a bit and just seemed lost. To see such a young boy with no real foresight or hope for the future is moving.
I was moved as i approached the Internet cafe his morning here on Long Street. It was only 6:15 AM in the morning. I had just woken up. But one of the other Long Street kids was still awake from the night before. He was frantically walking beside some lady, trying to convince her to give him money. Money to buy his last fix of the “night”. I have watched this young kid, whose head barely reaches my chest, closely the past few days. I have known that he “rocks”, but i didn’t realise how bad it has become. Sure, you can see his little face is caved in quite a bit, his head seems to be swelled propped up on his pole-like frame; a silhouette similar to a lollipop. He starts about 7:00 or 8:00 PM, moves nonstop and begs on Long Street until he has enough for a rock. When he has enough he runs and buys one, smokes it, and returns to Long Street and gets back to “work” without hesitation. He continues this pattern throughout the entire night, into the early hours of the morning. To see a child literally killing himself by starvation and poison, on a nightly basis, is extremely moving.
Those are just a few examples of how i have been “moved” in the past 12 hours. There are may more. It is easy to be moved, and then just go on with life as you know it. But now, more than ever before in the past eight years of working with these kids, i don’t just want to be “moved”. i want be moved to the point of action. I don’t want to let it stop at emotion but i want to allow that emotion to MOVE me to see change come for the good in the lives of these kids! So if anything i have said has moved you…don’t leave it there. Allow it to move you to action, whatever that may look like for you!