I get to work with some of the coolest kids in the world.
They can rap.
They break dance.
They love to play sports.
They’re quick learners.
They are some of the funniest kids I’ve ever met.
They’re so smart.
They laugh at everything.
They stick up for each other.
They give the best hugs.
They’re insanely loyal.
…and I could easily keep going. I love these kids already. BUT this weekend one of the realities of working with street children wrecked me hard…
It’s called rugby.
And I absolutely hate it.
Rugby is a drug almost all the street kids in Cagayan use to stay high and numb their pain. It can either come in glue form almost like super glue or in solid putty blocks used for patching roofs. They can buy it at any hardware store for less than 2 dollars and then they put it in their shirts or pour it onto balls of string and sniff it in all day.
It is currently the number 1 biggest obstacle we face trying to help these kids.
Last weekend when we pulled up to the Plaza to meet the kids, a few of them took off running as soon as they saw us so we wouldn’t take their rugby away.
The week before, two of my friends from the World Race were here visiting. They brought donations for the kids from America- shoes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, and backpacks. After they handed out a backpack filled with a few new essentials to each of the kids they were all SO grateful and excited. But by the next day, almost every kid had sold their backpack on the street for money to buy more rugby.
We wont make that mistake twice.
Yall- I’m not even talking about teenagers here. The oldest kid we work with right now is 13 years old. The rest of them are 8 and 9 years old!
They know its terrible for them and highly addictive but they choose to do it anyway. Because when they aren’t high as a kite they have to feel the physical pain of their hungry bellies. Or the piercing cold at night. Or the infection on their arm hurts more.
I long to be able to provide these kids with food, warm clothes, and medicine so they won’t need to sniff rugby anymore. Because I truly believe that deep down they don’t want to.
I long for the day to come soon when we are able to help these kids go to school and get an education. I can’t wait to see them grow and succeed and amaze the community by the valuable men and women they become. I dream about those days to come often…
But for now I hug them tight and show them grace.
I choose to look past their glazed over eyes and into their hearts.
When I see a street child I don’t just see an 8 year old on drugs.
I look at him and I see the person I know he can become.
And I’m committed to loving each of them through until they get there.
Because that’s really what changed my life- the day someone looked at me and instead of calling me out on my mess, they chose to call me UP into the person they knew I could be. They saw through all my walls and looked past my mistakes. And in doing that, they gave me hope.
Now, it’s my turn to pay it forward.
Will you pray with me as we try to figure out the best way to handle the rugby with these kids? If you have any ideas or know of anyone who has dealt with situations like this- I’m open to suggestions! Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. More than anything, I so appreciate your prayers!