Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Afternoons with Paito

Each afternoon after Masana, one of the boys, Paito, sticks around to wash our cars and complete whatever other odd jobs we have for him. He is also quite the entertainer. He loves music and dancing. So for him, washing one of our cars with the stereo blasted is the perfect way to pass the afternoon. And I love peaking out the window and seeing the joy on his face as he listens to his favorite music and dances. The video below is Paito and Lauren, one of my housemates. Lauren has just explained to Paito what ballet is.

Paito is quite unique when it comes to street kids. He keeps to himself on the street rather than sleeping with other kids. He loves his life on the streets where he can wake up, walk around, do what he wants, go to sleep. . . only to wake up and do it all over again the next day. Complete freedom. We've been talking to him a lot about his future and what dreams he has for his life.

Please pray for Paito. He does not have a relationship with his father and we really want to see that restored. Our hope for him is that he'll begin visiting his family on the weekends and start working towards restoring his family.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Luis: Revisted

A month ago, we took Luis back home. Today we did a follow-up visit. It was beautiful.

We arrived to a table set for a feast. Luis' grandparents were there to express their deep gratitude for our help in bringing their grandson back home. His grandmother shed tears of joy as she tried to express how much joy she felt that day, a month ago, when we first showed up at the family's house with Luis. Then she asked to pray for us. Her prayer was in Shanghan, the local language, so I did not understand her words but I felt the Holy Spirit. I knew that, once again, God had used us to restore a family. It was obvious that, with the return of Luis, this family was filled with new hope for life.

We discussed with the family what small business they had decided to try. They asked if instead, we would be willing to use the business money to build a house for Luis next to his mom's house. We asked them to do some research on the cost involved in this and we'll let them know if Masana has the finances to do it or not.

We had brought a suitcase full of new clothes, a couple of blankets, a sleeping mat, and a few other items Luis will need as he resettles with his family. Again, tears were shed as Luis opened the suitcase and showed his family all that was inside. One by one, his family members came to hug us and thank us again for all that we have done for their family.

Then we were served a feast. The women in the family had worked so hard to prepare these beautiful plates - prawns, chicken, salad, rice, and potatoes. It was literally some of the best food I've had in Mozambique. And how perfect to enjoy this meal sitting under a large tree in a village with a family so full of joy.

As we left, the entire family accompanied us to the end of the road. Then we said our goodbyes and continued on to the bus stop with just Luis and his mother. Luis' mom asked to speak to my coworker alone. Lauren and I walked on ahead with Luis chatting with him about life in his community and how he passed his time.

As we boarded the ferry boat to cross the Maputo Bay back to the city, my coworker told us that Luis' mom was HIV+. She had just found out and has not told her son or other family yet. That is why she wants us to build a house for her son....so that he has a place of his own once she is gone.

Watching the island disappear as the boat crossed the bay, tears filled my eyes. Such a mixture of emotions filled my heart as I thought of this joyful family so full of hope. And this mother carrying a secret....to afraid to tell her family for fear of crushing that hope.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Oh sweet Juma . . . such a heartbreaking story to tell.

Juma has been living on the streets for a couple of years. He is 12 years old now. His mom lives in South Africa most of the year and returns to Mozambique for only a few months. She has a husband in South Africa. I remember in 2009 when Juma heard from a family member that his mom would be in Mozambique. He saved all of the money he earned begging so that he could buy nice new clothes and then he went to visit her. A couple of weeks later he returned to the streets so happy that he had seen him mom.

Juma wants nothing more in the world than to live with his mom.

But she just doesn't want to take responsibility for Juma.
I don't get it.
And it breaks my heart.

Juma's mom was recently here in Mozambique again and we went to meet her. We spoke to her about her son and the responsibility she has in taking care of him. When I asked her why she doesn't take Juma to South Africa with her, she simply laughed and said, "what will I do with him there?"

Seeing that his mom was not willing to take care of Juma, we asked her to help us find a family member that he could live with. She agreed to help but never followed through. We finally just showed up at her house again with Juma. During this visit, she agreed that Juma could come back and live with her until she returned to South Africa at which point he would go live with his grandfather.

Juma was so happy as we left that day! He chose the following Thursday, exactly one week later, as his day to return.

Again, Juma spent the whole week saving his begging money to buy new clothes. Thursday arrived and Juma bid farewell to all of his friends at Masana. We drove to his mom's house and arrived to discover that she had left a few days earlier and returned to South Africa.

Juma was crushed. He held it together as we walked back to my car and then the tears began to flow as he faced the truth that his mom had left because she didn't want him.

No child should ever have to face that truth.

2 More Boys Back With Their Families

We recently helped 2 boys leave the streets and Maputo and return to their families!!! Here are their stories:

Thomas has been living on the streets on and off again since he was 10 years old. He is now 17. For 10 years he would leave home for no real reason, live on the streets for a few months, and then return home when he was ready to. Thomas has a great father who is a pastor. His father just does not understand why Thomas chooses to live on the streets when he has a family that loves him and provides for him.

In the past, other centers have helped Thomas return to his family. Why do I think us helping him this time will be any different? Thomas' father had a great and encouraging answer to that question. He said that there is something different about Masana and the way we have gone about reintegrating Thomas with his family. We are the first project that has invested time in talking with them as a family and getting to the root of what drives Thomas to the streets. We are the first project that has provided a bit of counseling for Thomas as he makes this transition back home. And we will continue doing all of this for at least a year.

Fred has one of the biggest smiles I've ever seen on the streets of Maputo. He just shines! He has a slight tendency to tell tall-tales but he is a good kid. He doesn't get into much trouble. He doesn't steal. He is one of the boys that hung around the house with us more often...one of the boys that we were able to connect with on a more personal level. And now he is home with his family.

Fred is 15 years old. Both of his parents have passed away. He is now living with his brother and his brother's wife in a community not far from the city.

I find this happens often: God will highlight a certain boy and give me and my housemates a special bond with him. He'll be one of the boys that we trust a little bit more than the others. He'll be one that opens up to us and shares about his life on and off the streets. And these are usually the boys we see making the decision to return home. And that is what our being here is all about.