It was great to see familiar faces in zone 4 yesterday. One of the younger boys who had been missing for a while has come back into the zone 4 group. His nickname is ‘the clown’ and looks about 13 years of age (photo). He is able to bend his legs around his body and has a smile that he seems to never be without despite his street existence.
Two of the older girls seemed to be rather down and one of them confided in me that she was sad because her brother had been arrested and sent to prison. She asked me if she could use my phone to call her mum. When we eventually got through to her mum her sister joined her in crying down the phone to their mum. When I spoke to the mum she told me they were both welcome back with “open arms”. Both girls cried a lot down the phone saying things like “mummy I am sorry” and “please can I come home”. Both left to catch a bus to Jocotales and I said I would call by their home next week to see how they are doing and maybe we could visit their brother in prison together.
Matt, Becky and I then joined a Guatemalan volunteer called Francis and headed to ‘El Hoyo’ which is probably the place I enjoy visiting the most. El Hoyo means ‘The Hole’ and is situated between the city bus terminal and main market and an area that is renowned for its bars and prostitution.
The crumbling streets and pavements are littered with excrement, bags of open rubbish which are a great source of food for the many stray dogs, and many drunk men sleeping off the alcohol. In the midst of this are the many kids we are working with. Some of whom are kids who live on the streets and many who are ‘at risk’ of becoming street kids or have a strong sense of connection with the streets.
Last week Moises (photo), a young man who has grown up on the streets but was now renting a room in the market, came and asked me for some medical help for himself and his little son. We went to see where he was living and in order to find his room we had to make our way down a labyrinth of narrow passageways in total darkness. The room was eventually lit by a candle and revealed a wooden bunk bed and a pile of clothes. Five people were living in the room and no wonder that the children only sleep there and then spend the rest of their time on the streets or in the market doing odd jobs. Moises was so happy we had visited and we were able to give him a small wind-up torch for his house which I hope will be treasured and used rather than sold.
Moving on into the market area itself we already had a small posse of children following alongside of us and some fighting for the chance to hold our hands. Most of the stalls had now closed up for the night and so the empty passage ways and piles of crates made for a make-shift area for us to gather the children together and play a game of LOTTO. Some of the children I had met the week before and so knew that they needed some treatment on their feet.
The foot washing was certainly needed as many of the young children had no socks and very black feet with sores and infections. After the cleaning came the bit the children seemed to relish – the application of cream and foot massage. Finally some foot powder and for three young children some socks. It was amazing to see the smiles afterwards and one little boy was so proud of his clean feet and new socks he couldn’t help but show everyone.
Matt, Becky and Francis were great at playing with the children and providing them with crayons and colouring sheets, so thanks guys for coming and helping.