And then Came JP

It was almost midnight as I made my way home. A young boy who had been staying with me for several weeks for medical reasons, had just left. The girls who stay with me had gone home for the weekend, and Baby Grace, whom we had been caring for for several months was on her way home too. I was looking forward to a weekend to myself. As the moto was dropping me off on the corner, for me to walk the rest of the way home, I saw a small young boy standing on the corner. Wow. What is that child doing out here, alone this late in the night? I thought. I planned to greet him and see if he was ok, but as I was still paying the moto, the little boy called out to me, “Laura!” I greeted him, but had no idea who he was.

I paid the moto and walked over to the little barefoot guy. It was cold out tonight. I was wearing a sweater and had taken a sweatshirt for extra. He was barefoot in a t-shirt.

I asked where his mom was and he replied that he didn’t have one. Dad had left and gone back to their home village and had refused to take him.

When did mom die? “Some time ago.” Where do you live? “Nowhere.”

Who do you have to stay with? “Noone.”

Where are you sleeping tonight? “I don’t know yet.”

Well, I could at least help him with the last question. He took my hand, and we walked home for the night, with plans to visit a center for orphans nearby and see if they can help , contact authorities, and the National Ministry of Children as well.

I came to learn JP is 7 years old, he may have family in a village several hours away, but he only knows the first names of his mother and father, and does not know more than a general area (county size) where his family may reside. He knew me because he had attended our Bible club several times. I figured this out when he started quoting all of our memory verses and singing all of the Bible club songs when he went to sleep at night.

Saturday, I took him (at his request) to a local center for orphans. He hoped he could stay there. They were full. They did not wish to take in anyone new. No, they could not house him, not even just for the weekend. They suggested I take him to the police. I have some experience with trying to get the police to help in these situations, and usually it results in the child spending a few days in a jail cell, until they release him back to the same situation.

I then called the National Department of Children, who told me it was the weekend, maybe I could try the village leaders. The village leader’s phone was off. We waited until Monday.

On Monday, we went to a council of local leaders who, having no other place for the child, asked me, “Can he stay with you for a few days until we locate his family?” Needless to say, I have never heard from them again, and never expected to. During the upcoming school break JP and I intend to do some searching for family ourselves.

JP began school the very next week. He is very bright and witty, extremely responsible and caring. He is fairly certain that anywhere I go, he needs to go, and my home is his. In fact, one morning at breakfast I heard him discussing with the other children whom he will live with when I die! Apparently, we are together until then!

 

Sometimes while we’re praying that God will send someone, we realize that maybe He wants us to get up and go.

_SAM1228bI was sitting on the street corner waiting for a friend when I saw them. One ragged little boy dug through a trash bin, found some bread and eagerly shared it with the other boys. I watched with pity, wishing there was something I could do. These little guys who live in the streets have a special place in my heart, but my ability to work with them or help them has been greatly limited by government restrictions and a threat that I would be jailed if caught feeding them or helping them again. This has made anything I do for them more difficult and covert.
So, I prayed, Dear God, help those little boys. Send someone into their lives to show them love, Your love. Let them know they matter, that they are created by You and You have a purpose for their lives. Meet their needs, Dear God; and if there is any way that I can help them, please make a way.
As I prayed, I couldn’t just watch any more. Forget the risks, if I can’t help someone, what is the point of being here? So, I went into the closest store bought each a carton of milk, a yogurt and a couple loaves of bread.
I took it to them and they ate readily and hungrily, though I had to quickly walk away as a crowd was swiftly gathering to see what I was doing.

The next day, one of the boys showed up at my house. Abandoned by both his mother and his father, he has been living in the street for the past year. “Laura, Help me go to school,” he said. He was willing to go with me to the local authorities to get written permission that I could put him in boarding school. I was thrilled that I could help take one little boy off the streets, and that a prayer I’ve had over the past year was in some small way being answered.
That night 8 boys showed up at my house just to come in, talk, have a meal and take a bath (Can you imagine 10 & 12 year old boys who are begging to take a bath?). The next night 10 came, the next night, New Year’s Eve, 12, and we had to cut down on our visits before we got ourselves in a mess!
During the same week, little boys one by one began coming to my door asking for help in going to school. With each boy, I had to get written permission from their local government leaders, verifying that they were without parents, or without anyone to help them, and that I had permission to help them by putting them in a boarding school where they would receive guidance, education, a safe place to sleep at night, meals every day, and the ability to blend in with their peers and be a part of their society.
In one week’s time, we were able to put 3 boys into boarding school. Two others who have a mother, are able to stay at home, while Love Alive has provided their schooling. One young boy, has lost both parents, and most recently, the man with whom he was living died also. We have paid for his schooling, but he is hopeful to begin boarding school soon.
The little boys with no place to call home and no one offering them guidance, education, love or a future are many here. I’m so thankful that we have been able to help a few. The cost to keep a child off the streets for a year, while providing education, meals, lodging, clothing and living necessities is $600.
I have spoken with the 3 boys who are all at the same boarding school. Their teachers tell me that the boys keep asking for more things to study as they are extremely eager to learn. I asked one of the boys on his second day of school, “Are you happy here?” He said, “Oh so very happy, and now I have gotten so smart!”
To all who contribute to Love Alive in prayer or gifts, you are changing these children’s lives. Thank you.
P.S. About Jack: To those who recall and have asked about a young boy in a recent blog “Jack” who was living in the streets with no one willing to care for him, I have an update! Somehow (most likely in answer to your prayers!) Jack’s grandmother conceded to allow Jack to come stay with her and Jack’s 4 siblings. I visit him regularly, and Love Alive provides the family with basic staple foods and toiletries each month and provides sponsorship for Jack and his siblings as without this help, they would often go without food, and eventually the children would either be sent or turn to the streets. Thank you for your continued prayers. We can make a difference in lives showing Christ’s love to one child at a time.

In What Kind of World?

In What Kind of World?

In a recent letter home, I relayed a situation I was in where I simply had to walk away, but I commented, “If I were reading this story in a novel, I’d be so irritated that the character would walk away! Surely she should do something, fight, risk, lead a march, defy the odds and act. Come what may, just do something.” Yet here I was the character in the situation, and I was simply walking away.
I met Jack just a few days before I headed back to the USA for two months. I had known his family for many months, often visiting them since the death of their mother, but had only recently learned that there was a 13-year-old brother living in the streets. He had no known father, and his mother had died this past year. I later learned that I had not yet known him as the rest of the family had cast him off refusing to acknowledge his relationship to the family. I set off to the streets to find Jack, and was soon informed by various boys in the street that Jack had recently been picked up by the police. A visit to a nearby police station led me to the correct jail where delinquent youth are kept. I went to the jail and was able to speak with a police sergeant, a social worker and a chaplain at the jail and also meet Jack. I was informed that boys found in the streets are kept at the jail for two weeks or until a family member claims them. In Jack’s case. No one was coming for him. I asked if it was possible to help Jack, whether I could put him in school, or what other options he might have other than simply returning to the streets until he was picked up yet again by the police to repeat the same cycle. I was told that they would be willing to hold Jack at the jail until I returned and could put him in a boarding school. (Holding only a temporary visa, I had no grounds to ask for him to be allowed to stay with me).
I left for the US not knowing what the outcome would be, but willing to give this child a chance. Though only 13, he’d been living in the streets a year now, and a hard life was leaving its scars. His countenance was that of a grown man. I could scarcely believe I was looking at a little boy of only 13, who would return to school in the 3rd grade if given opportunity.
I had only been back in Rwanda 3 days, when I was on my way to a village a few hours away to visit Jack’s family. As I boarded the bus, I saw him, “Jack?!” He nodded. He’d been back on the streets a few weeks already, but wanted to go along with me to visit his relatives. Along the way, he warned me that his Grandma had told him long ago that he was not welcome at her house, and I already knew that when he had tried to visit his adult sister, her husband had beat him and chased him away. Surely a grandma would be happy to see her grandson, I thought. But Jack was right. His grandmother didn’t even acknowledge his presence for several minutes, then looked at him and scorned, “So you’re still living in the streets?” What else was a boy to do with nowhere else to go? Then Grandma launched into a tirade about how much she despised him and wanted nothing to do with him. Two of Jack’s aunts were present, and neither of them showed any difference of opinion. What could a young boy have possibly done at this age to be cast out of the family?
It was a very long 2 hour drive back to the city with Jack. My heart was heavy for the young boy I’d taken to the only family he had only to be rejected by them again. On top of that, I had no choice but to return him to the very streets where I had found him. I had tried explaining to Jack that though I cared immensely, I had to have legal permission to invite him to my home, that as a foreigner, my bringing home a child would be highly suspect, and that I was still working through visa issues. But it was rainy season, and Jack was sleeping on sidewalks or metal benches at night with no covering. He found what food he could each day and hung out with other boys in the street headed for no future. Trying to do the best I could, I hugged him, gave him a little food and money and my phone number, and told him I’d be back again in a few days. That’s when he looked at me and said, “When are you coming to take me home with you?”
That was the moment when I wanted the character in the story to defy all odds and take that child home; yet I knew that were I to do such, I would not only not be able to help Jack at all in the future, I would also lose the ability to help so many other children I’ve come to know and love. So, I ended up walking away wondering in what kind of world does a person have to walk away to leave a little boy fending for himself in the streets. Apparently the one in which I live.

It’s been a week since I left Jack at the street corner where he stays. I’ve been back to see him 3 times. When I left him yesterday, he dug in his pocket to show me the scrap of paper with my number scrawled on it. I’ve made some phone calls, but still not found a good solution for him. I haven’t lost hope that a door will open and Jack can have a chance at a future. When you say your prayers, be sure to say a prayer for Jack. I’ll be sure to let you know when our prayers are answered.