today i had the privilege of entering into the secret world of the street kids i work with. ian, alexis, and i were invited to visit the area of the city where they have construed houses for themselves. i parked my car by a new fancy office building and then we began the uphill climb into one of the few green spaces in the city of Maputo. parts of the hill were so steep that we had to use roots and vines to pull ourselves up. other parts we just had to climb on all fours. we passed a broken pipe peaking out of the ground with water leaking out. the boys informed us that that is where they wash their clothes and bathe when masana is closed. finally we arrived into this little village of houses made of sticks, cardboard boxes, sheets of plastic, and other random scraps found in the garbage.
there are at least 20 boys sleeping in this area. the oldest boys are around 20 years old and the youngest are 11. they are a community...protecting and helping one another. one by one the boys took us to their houses and showed us their individual rooms. some of the boys, especially the younger, sleep 2 or 3 to a house. the older boys had taken much care in building beds with scraps of wood. some had small boxes that served as a bedside table. their little tables were covered with treasures found around the city...almost empty bottles of perfume, broken toys, empty boxes baring the logo of their favorite brands such as nike or coca cola.
i was filled with all sorts of emotions as i spent a couple of hours in this secret world:
PROUD of how resourceful my boys are.
HAPPY to see the older boys inviting the younger boys to live among them.
OVERWHELMED by the care each one took of his home...even running ahead of us to clean up before we arrived.
SAD at the thought of them sleeping on that hill overlooking the city tonight.
BROKEN at the sense of hopelessness that these boys live in when a glorified cardboard box serves as a substitute for a home filled with family.
BLESSED to know that i am trusted enough to be invited into their world.