Thursday, January 27, 2011

Unexpected item in the bagging area

And so, a resume of sorts. I need to tell you about A. Never formally introduced by me (to my shame), he arrived about the same time at J. You may have seen him in a few postings over the months.

like a bunch of keys

Badly deformed by fire as a child, he always had a troubled relationship with his mother, whom he blames for the contorted stumps which he has for feet. He is one of several brothers, each by a different father; with the exception (if you can call it that) that his father is dead. Misfortune, jealousy and neglect - a toxic mix for a childhood spent mostly in the care of random "uncles" and neighbours.

We met him several times on the street before he was interned in a state-run home and shortly thereafter referred to us. Come to us, he did, for seven months. Progressing well, he was allowed supervised (and then, unsupervised) family visits, with mixed results.

"Was all this the realisation of our war aims?", Malcolm Muggeridge asked as he surveyed the desolation of Berlin in May, 1945. "Did it really represent the triumph of good over evil?". And sometimes I too reflect on our aim of reintegration and wonder if it works in all circumstances. If one cannot change the context (the nurture), can one hope to change the nature?

But then I think of J, and how he too was reintegrated - wholly and successfully - at the same time as A. He now attends Robert's post-school ministry between the favelas in São George. A great encouragement.

The boys we look after are not particularly exceptional in appearance, although some come to us suffering from malnutrition or bear scars from a life already lived (but they are the minority). The difference only becomes noticeable after interaction with them for longer periods of time. Like a bunch of keys with one recently removed, you can sense when you pick them up that there's something missing.

The story comes to its seemingly inexorable conclusion with a string of phone calls from his mother over the weekend, sounding as if they stemmed from genuine concern. And then, quite unexpectedly - shockingly even - I spot him on the streets in downtown this afternoon. Emaciated and swaying from the intoxication of thinner, I approach him, give him a hug and tell him he is loved. He wants to return to the rescue house. And that is what we shall endeavour to do.

I will return to the street later tonight to try and find him. It's no place for a child.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

hey luke
thanks for sharing this... so sad to read that a. ran away and so good that you've met him!
i'm praying for you and the boys.

yours,
d.

Aline Maira said...

it really isn't. hope everything works out for A.

Luke said...

thanks, d - appreciate it

whitney said...

WHAT a picture of the gospel.

Praying for you guys. I've recently been catching certain smells here and there that bring me back to Sao Paulo. It's funny how your nose can do that. =)

-Whit

Luke said...

a sweet aroma indeed!

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