Saturday, October 28, 2006

Getting the boot

Friday afternoon brought us one of the saddest cases I have seen in a while.

A 14 year old boy named Loc turned up on our doorstep, brought to us by another street kid who knows about our center. My first glance at Loc told me he's been through something terrible. His thin body is covered in scabies. His arms have been slashed with cut glass. There are serious burns on his toes, scabbing wounds up and down both of his legs... and he was filthy, hungry, and tired.

It's kids like Loc who inspire me to keep going when everything else just seems too difficult. My last two posts, I realise, have been quite negative - looking over them tonight, I sound like a real whiner! Things have been tough, but sitting next to Loc and seeing the wounds all over his body, I know that I have nothing to complain about.

Apart from all the scars and bruises, perhaps the saddest feature of this little guy was the look of fear on his face. This boy has been through some awful trauma, and last night there was no chance of him giving us a smile. He was overwhelmed just by being in our building and having somebody be nice to him. But that look of terrible suspicion lingered in his eyes - will these people, too, beat me? Am I going to be tortured all over again?

Loc has been kicked about pretty badly - but this morning brought a huge change. Some kicking of a very different sort...

The New Zealand soccer team is in town, and the Embassy had organised with UNIS school to have a morning of coaching for some of their students. UNIS was EXTREMELY generous in inviting us along (thanks, Julian!) so about 20 of our boys - including Loc - spent some time on beautiful grass fields learning a few skills and playing some games.

The New Zealanders were just amazing. I'm sure they have no idea what an impact they had on our kids. They were HUGE by comparison to our little guys, but not in the least bit scary. They joked about, they bubbled with enthusiasm, they applauded our kids... and I have a feeling that their goalies might have let one or two of those goals in on purpose. I'm seriously hoping that the whole team decides to relocate to Vietnam permanently.

All of our kids had a great time - but it was the look on Loc's face that was the most precious of all. He spent most of the session chasing a ball around, half in his own little world. He was just so happy. For a little while, all of his aches, pains, and itches were totally forgotten.

And this afternoon, he's still smiling.

1 comment:

Mosher said...

Mike, I've had a "down" couple of days myself for my own reasons. But to hear about Loc, I first of all realised that my problems are nothing compared to other peoples'. And then to read about him playing football and being able to shrug off what has happened for some time... that's the first time I've smiled in two days.

Children are amazing at the best of times. The ones you work with are beyond amazing. I think I'll be back in Vietnam around April/May next year if my money holds up. I look foward to seeing you all again then!