Man I am finding it hard to concentrate right now because i have two guys behind me in the Internet cafe that are in a heated discussion, yelling and swearing. They have been at it for the full 29 minutes i have been in here. The one guy is a black man from Zimbabwe. The other guy is a white man from England. I didn’t catch the start of the conversation but the Zimbabwean says “all white men are evil and are to blame for the world’s problems”. The English bloke strongly disagrees and tries to not come off as racist as he makes ignorant comments. I do not know why they are still going on with this conversation unless it is some secret conspiracy to distract me from writing a good blog! If so, it is working!! I am distracted!
They are two guys with two pole views on the same issue. The Zimbabwean is stuck in the past. Yes, “white people” have caused harm all over the world, done many terrible things, things that are horrendous beyond words, but we have to move on, taking responsibility for what is “ours”, surrendering what is “out of our hands” and forgiving those that have done us wrong. The English chap on the other hand does not want to take enough responsibility. He does not want to take any responsibility for the evil deeds of his forefathers. Sure, he wasn’t there, it wasn’t his fault, but in many areas of the world, you benefit just by being born white. Anyway, i didn’t want to get into this discussion at the moment but yeah. They will continue on to shout, swear, interrupt each other, and they will both walk away from this conversation having learned nothing from each other, but only pushed further into their strong opinions they so tightly guard. ANYWAY…
I can’t believe it’s the 12 day! Only four days left. Time has flown by!
Yesterday morning on my way to the Internet cafe i met up with Xavier. He is a little guy. I think he is probably 13 or 14 but his growth has been drastically stunted by drugs, malnutrition and whatever else. He uses all sorts of substances; drugs way too big for his size. He is kind of a loner and moves around alone, going from one group to the next. He sometimes comes around at night to the flower stalls. He works on the taxis (the VW Minibus taxis) quite a bit. They, of course, can use him as their “guardtjie” (the guy who shouts out the window, collects the money from the people and opens and closes the door), and pay him way less then they would have to pay an actual adult. Street vendors, informal traders, taxi drivers, and the lot really benefit from the cheap child labour and exploitation the get out of the children living on the streets.
Back to the story…So i was walking to the Internet cafe yesterday morning and bumped into Xavier. He had some food in his hand and looked exhausted. We were going the same direction so we walked and talked together. He said that he had been working all night on a taxi and he was “dead tired”. He was going to eat his food and then sleep all day. It was not more than 30 seconds after those words came out of his mouth when a taxi driver passed by and saw Xavier. The driver stopped the taxi, shouted out of the window “Don’t you want to work?!”. Without thinking twice Xavier said bye to me, ran to the taxi and jumped in. I found him late last night, about 10:00, at the flower stall and he had just finished working. He looked like a zombie. The drugs he smoked just after i saw him did not help the look much!
I went back out into town and came back in late. Xavier was passed out, all by himself, curled up into a ball under a jacket, snuggled up next to the wall. I looked at him and thought about how wrong it is for a kid that small to be exploited in the way that he is on a daily basis. I mean, this not even to mention the paedophiles he probably goes with for money. I looked at him and thought about how wrong it is for a child that small to go around, all hours of the day and night, smoking drugs with adults; drugs too big for his size. I looked at him and thought about how wrong it is that such a small kid sleeps all by himself, curled up with no protection but a jacket thrown over him. Anything could happen really. And it probably does! Wise was busy doing some stuff and i was tired so i got my piece of cardboard and laid it next to Xavier.
I laid my head on my “pillow” (my backpack) and fell asleep pretty soon after. I was awakened later in the evening by a rat crawling on my stomach. I catapulted it with my blanket and sent it flying. My sleep was disturbed again later in the evening by some movement of my bag. Someone was trying to steal it. I uncovered my head from underneath the blanket and said, “JY! Wat maak jy?!” (What are you doing?!). The guy was surprised to see it was me. He didn’t realise. He seemed embarrassed. His shadiness was revealed to me first hand. He apologized and made up some excuse that he was looking for matches. I told him to look somewhere else. He did. I went back to sleep. I was again later awakened by some little hands pulling the blanket off of my head. It was Xavier. He looked pleasantly surprised to see it was me. He said, “Oh!! It’s you!”. Then he scurried back over to his spot, got back under his jacket and stretched his legs over me and went straight back to sleep. It was sad and funny at the same time.
I told Wise about it this morning and he said that Xavier probably felt safer with his legs laying over me as he slept. It is really sad for me to think about a kid, out in the world all by himself, fending for himself in all sorts of ways that are way to mature for his age and size. But this is why i am doing this. To be able to experience these things, feel them, understand them on a deeper level, and share them with you.