Friday, May 4, 2012

Encounter for Street Youth

The final "event" we collaborated with the Missionaries of Charity Fathers was an encounter for the youth who live - literally - on the streets, many of whom sniff glue almost continuously to help numb them from the harsh realities of their lives.

The day began with the typical Kenyan breakfast, tea (with milk and sugar) and bread; that helped draw a large crowd from small children to young adults.

Young street women, some with small children.

Right after breakfast, we moved into a time of songs and animation. Br. Juan Pablo, MC, lead the music with his faith-filled and humorous style (as you can see above). It's an overwhelming and really rather disturbing experience to see so many young people with so much potential "left behind" and "pushed aside" by life. I found myself asking over and over again, what was it that brought these young men and women to this point
in their lives, to be living on the street, constantly clouded by glue fumes. As in the case with the prisoners at Kamiti, I realized with even greater conviction that it's only the Lord who can take full account of - and redeem - someone's life: all the experiences, factors, effects, decision, circumstances that impinge upon a person and shape their present reality

Among those present were some couples who somehow found one another and cling to one another as they struggle to survive on the streets of the slums.

Not only were their couples, but also young families, parents with children, single mothers, even fathers and sons.

A street boy and his son.

One of the highlights of the day was the games and competitions: passing balls backwards over heads and through legs, relay races and musical chairs. It was beautiful and amazing to see how much pure joy these youth experienced in the games. It was obvious they felt really free and "at home" at the MC Fathers' compound, and could forget - for a little while - some of the more painful aspects of their lives. It was a little breakthrough and taste of the Kingdom of God, for them and for us.

The jubilation of the boy (below) who won the musical chairs competition could hardly have been rivaled by an Olympic gold medalist.

This young man, a former "glue boy" but now clean, was also able
to do a complete back flip from a stationary standing position

After the games we all headed to the chapel for Eucharistic adoration and a Liturgy of the Word, led by Fr. Ray, MC, who is really a father to many of these young people. At one point there was even an offertory in which the youth put small pieces of candy and coins as an offering to Jesus.

The day ended with a hearty meal of stew, beans and ugali, a heavy mash made of coarse corn flour.

Glue Boy Composite.

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