Friday, September 13, 2013

Open Eyed

I am challenged and inspired by my husband’s heart for the poor…….He and some of our staff went out into the city centre on Wednesday night looking for street children. They met two street families – one with a very sick girl with diarrhea sleeping with her little sister curled up beside her on s soiled cardboard box – a dirty, smelly makeshift bed upon the hard concrete ground. Spoiled rotten rice was their meal for the evening……while others enjoyed plates of hot food in nearby restaurants or thoughtlessly walked on by past their suffering .

Food, medicine, rehydration drinks, prayer – small offerings to share with a family with nothing but each other..

Just a block away, another family with 5 children were also sleeping in a shop doorway squeezed together.A poor shelter from the relentless downpours of the rainy season. 

Beneath the piles of clothes, hardly noticeable was a tiny 3 week old premature baby boy bundled up asleep. 

The other children were scattered around the market place – mingling among the night vendors, ladies on the corners waiting for customers, glue sniffers, addicts, market stalls, dealers, unaware of the dangers  and enticing influences surrounding their play area.

The father, slightly drunk, shared how they were forced to abandon their broken house on the other side of the city after the birth of their 5th little one as it is unlivable. He is a fisherman, but without a boat. No income, no food, a broken home and the weighty responsibility of survival. Despondent, defeated, losing hope…..a bottle provides a short escape from misery.

One father of 5 children, familiar with the vulnerabilities and difficulties of premature infants meets face to face with another. How to respond? How to reach out and help?

An evening street outreach quickly developed into an earnest, urgent, heartfelt response not only for 5 street children but for a whole family to remain intact and not disintegrate in poverty and despair.

One father’s simple offer?……To repair a broken home.

The following day they went with the family to their ‘house’. It was indeed unlivable – hardly a home or even a shelter - just a falling shack without a roof, walls or much of a floor –leaning at an angle and ready to collapse in the next rainfall - beyond repair.

Just one push and the rickety shack folded over, a pile of dilapidated jumble……

SO with sweat, splinters, and a few bruises between them, our staff lovingly and determinedly decided to give up their free time and spent the following 2 days building a NEW HOME.

A simple ‘Bahay Kubo’ native style house. Nothing fancy but somewhere to call ‘home’. It removes a whole family off the streets back close to the support of their extended family nearby and is a start in rebuilding their life TOGETHER.

On Thursday our staff returned with more groceries, clothing, toys and basic household items and went in search with the father to find and buy him a boat.

There is a famous quote ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day….teach a man to fish and you feed him (and his family) for a lifetime.’

There are many things that we are unable to change – and of course we can’t help everyone….but if we are ready to be available we can help start change that can last a lifetime.

Long before we had the privilege of meeting this family we had talked often about the challenges of reaching out to street children – Not all of them are abandoned – many have families but poverty gives few choices or opportunities for a life beyond survival. It is critical that we respond to the roots of the problem and engage directly with families – These children need their parents but until the cycle is broken it continues with 2nd and 3rd generations of street children living desperate existences.

We dream for and are praying for some land where we can build more homes and work together with local communities to be able to offer street families the opportunity and support to help turn their lives and the futures of their children around. It is more than ‘social action’ or 'handouts' but taking the responsibility to see with open eyes and no longer be ‘passersby’ anymore…..

" Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations,
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.' Isaiah 58:12

Dreams don’t cost anything…….but making them active will be a great sacrifice…..

'All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men (or women), for they may act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible.' T.E Lawrence (my edit about women :-) !!)

Change starts with us… has started here…..!