Saturday, May 17, 2008

and then there were children

We've had a lot of children at our Friday night street ministry nights lately. Both coming as "clients" (for lack of a better word, I should write about that sometime, the things we call people) and as volunteers. It's very interesting to watch them and to think about how life is for them. Even within their "groups" (ie, volunteers children) they come from very different backgrounds and life experiences.

We have some children from the neighbourhood who started coming by. It was sad in many ways, but we had to tell them that Friday nights are just not the time for them to come. We talked about it as a group, because it is hard, but it's just not safe for them. We can't supervise them in our building and they're not with an adult. That being said, it's hard, because what are they getting into elsewhere, are they any safer outside? We gave them dinner tonight in containers so they could take it with them. They're the ones who taught me the word "rubee" for homeless person. It's interesting how derogatory they are.

We also have some children who come with their parents for the meal. This is also hard to see. One family comes with children who are always really dirty, but the kids seem really emotionally healthy. I'm trying to sit down with them every week and build a relationship; with the parents that is, the kids are just little. We'll see if that happens though. It's not really a place where I can take that kind of time every single week. Things just don't work that way. I feel for those kids, but I'm also glad their parents are willing to go out of their way to bring them somewhere where there is food. That being said, I really wish that didn't have to happen in such a rich society. It must be a very humbling experience for parents to bring their kids to our dinner.

Then we have the children who come with their parents to volunteer. They're fun, although sometimes underfoot. I did that when I was a kid (both volunteer and get underfoot... in fact, i know at least one person who would say I still get underfoot now)! I love that their parents bring them to a place where they are exposed to a different side of life. And, I love their energy... I'm totally jealous. I wish I could just go, go, go like that. Although, for all those who know me, I'm sure you're VERY glad I don't.

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