The Street Boys

Filed Under (Stories) by maripipi on 07-03-2010

Maripipi is hit by the monsoon season starting late June. The strong winds, heavy downpours, bend or uproot trees to destruction.

One morning as I was going to my daily exercise I noticed one of my banana tree bent towards the road. The fruits were not mature enough to ripe so I left it there to mature.

Banana TreeA week or so later as I passed by the banana to go to my aerobics, I saw about three bunches with yellow ripe bananas. I thought of taking them when I came home after aerobics. Lo and behold, the ripe bananas were gone!
I was upset. Across the street where the banana bent I saw 4 boys lying down in the patio. I crossed the street and confronted them. They all ran away. Mark, the seven year old boy was slow and I caught up him. “Who of you ate my bananas?” Tears started to run down his checks. “I will not punish you if you tell me honestly” I said. “We ate the banana, all of us because we were hungry. We had no supper last night” he said.

I felt awful for confronting a hungry child. I grabbed him by the hand, brought him home and showed him how to cook the rice and fish with lots of vegetables. He selected the biggest cooking pots and I wondered how four boys would be able to consume all that food we cooked

When he was done I asked him to look for his friends so they can join him.  He came back alone. He said that his friends were scared. I told him to eat to his heart’s desire.  After eating he secretly left. He showes his bulging stomach to his friends to let them know how much he had eaten.  The next time I peeped through the kitchen window I saw the four boys, Edward 8, Indo 9, (Edward’s brother), Edmond, also 9 and Mark were eating under the mango tree. They left secretly by climbing the walls of the concrete fence. Nothing was left of the food. All the dishes were washed.  Wow how could four boys eat so much food?   Did they bring the left over home to feed their families?

The boys who eat the banana.The following day the boys came back early.  The four boys were shy. I can still see the guilt in their faces. They would hide when I am around if they can. When they left in the afternoon I noticed the backyard clean, wood chopped and piled as firewood for their next cooking.  The following day the four boys came through the gate. They started to cook in the biggest pot. I saw six new boys looking down at what they were cooking. I heard a noise in the corner and I saw five more boys climbing the concrete fence to get in. The four original boys told their friends the source of food where they will not go hungry all day.  While they were eating I approached and ask them why they were not in school. Edward said he quit school because when there is a fight in school “I am suspected to be the source of the fight. The teacher will raise me up by my ear and it is very painful.”  Indo his brother said he quit school because they do not have money to buy food. When you are hungry in school you cannot learn anything. Mark said his mother ask him to quit because she could not afford to buy school supplies. Joey quit because he has to take care of his younger siblings.  Dennis quit to help his mother earn money to feed the family. Rolly who is 13 said he has no home and nobody cares what he does. At 13 he is almost an alcoholic.

Street KidsI told the boys that they are welcome to my home if they followed my rules and regulations. No lying and stealing, and they have to follow their schedule.  The schedule is this. They eat breakfast up to 8:00 am, 8:00-11:00 am they go to the clay and they can play or do whatever they like to do with it. At 11:00 am they take a bath or swim in the sea and wash their clothes. They come back at 12:00 noon to eat lunch they cooked earlier. Then all of then look for a place to rest or sleep.  School began at 1:00pm; 1:00-2:00pm is writing and math, 2:00-4:00pm is religion and values combined. As I start talking to the smallest one, Mark moved to my right side. Iko moved to my left. I felt like I was suffocating. The clothes they wore smelled awful. “Have you changed your clothes?”, “No.” said Mark. “This is the only shirt I have. “My mother can’t wash it because we cannot buy soap. When I swim I just dip it in the water and wear it again until it cannot be worn anymore. Oftentimes someone give me a new shirt in exchange for an errand”. Said Mark. I told them to go back to their seat.

Reaching out to the youth in school.I usually tell them stories about the Bible, stories I heard from my father as I was growing up.  From there I teach values that they use everyday. After school they throw the garbage and go home. After 3 months I noticed that the boys attitude changed. I meet one of the retired teachers one day and propose to her about teaching one afternoon a week. She refused; she wanted to be paid. “What a cruel world” I said to myself. I continue with what I was doing and maintain our school activities. It ended when left to attend a reunion of my nursing classmates in San Francisco in 1998. After the reunion I went back to Colorado with the plan to stay there for good.

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