Monday, September 19, 2011

The suffering of children

On the plane to Lima I finished Uwem Akpan’s  Say You’re One of Them, a series of short stories by this Nigerian Jesuit. It was not an easy book to read – partly due to the use of African English phrases, partly due to the many details of the two longest stories,  but mostly because of the subject – Africa terrorized, from the perspective of children.

All of the stories, except one, are told by children. The children are extraordinary, in their ability to survive in the midst of poverty, child-trafficking, war, and inter-group violence.

The effect on me was cumulative, with tears in my eyes at the end of the last story. It is almost as if the evil and pain in the stories builds up until the final tale.

I am probably more sensitive to these stories after this past week.

I spent Tuesday through Friday leading a retreat with the volunteers at La Finca del Niño. Then I spent Friday afternoon till Sunday morning at the Finca, resting before my journey to San Pedro Sula and then to Lima, Perú.

Closing circle for the retreat around the Eucharist

The Finca cares for some of the myriads of Honduran children who are orphaned, abandoned, abused, and hungry. It’s a drop in the bucket – but a needed drop since they hope to prepare the children to contribute to building up their country.

As I spoke to a few of the volunteers I heard concerns about the kids but also hopes for them, especially when an elementary school child shares about wanting to help in the future.

I was at La Finca for one morning prayer, Lauds. The kids prayed and sang. but what really impressed me was how well the kids read. Some of them read much better than kids their own age in the Dulce Nombre parish and even better than some pastoral workers whom I know in the diocese. It’s obviously because the teaching is better and the kids are encouraged to read.

But I think of all the other kids I run across, especially the kids at the Comedor de Niños in Santa Rosa. Some of the children are really sharp; others are very shy. And then there are the rebellious. What will become of them?

Thanks be to God there are some people good at working with kids and are culturally sensitive, not coming in as if they have all the answers.

That’s what Honduras needs.

1 comment:

phoenixwoman said...

Thanks for being there, John.