When Touch is so Powerful.
As I sit on the plane flying to Guatemala I’m filled with mixed emotions. I’m both sad and excited at the same time but never really settle on either emotion. This is a continued pattern as I arrive in Guatemala, as I leave, but also as I continue my day to day life back home. It’s just on plane journeys these emotions are heightened for me so I avoid any tear-jerker films.
As I sit on the plane and reflect back to my first trip 5 years ago, I never for one minute ever imagined my life would change so much. Now I cannot imagine my life without Street Kids Direct being part of it and therefore it comes with the inevitable and ever revolving circle of sadness and excitement. And no I wouldn’t change that for anything.
As I arrive and meet the children, some who I have known for many years, there is always a hesitation in me. I want to scoop the children up in my arms, swing them round and smother them. But I know I am not in their lives everyday and things here change so much so I try to judge it as best I can. Touch can have such powerful consequences. A friendship confirmed, a disagreement resolved, and language barriers overcome. But there are more adverse consequences of touch that are so prevalent here. My work in England is within child abuse so I recognise the withdrawn child, the one that winces or cowers when someone gets too close to them. But here child vulnerability is on another level where sexual and physical abuse surrounds you and somehow just made so much worse by the conditions they live in.
I stay in Casa Alexis, the protection house in Zone 11. Here, a brother aged 13 and sister aged 9 stay for a few days as their mother has just given birth and is unable to cope with them. The Mother is also in a very unsafe area and so the children are at risk from further abuse. I prefer not to use their names but their ages are almost identical to my own children and I can’t help but compare how different their lives are. More importantly I find myself feeling quite disturbed by how withdrawn and so clearly very traumatised the boy is. This is a situation where touch has had an adverse consequence on this boy’s life and so I try as best I can to do stupid things to make him smile in an attempt to gain his trust. I was overwhelmed when he agreed to come to church with me and when given the choice, preferring to stick close to my side rather than mix with the other children I’d taken. I’m under no illusion that this was solely down to me. There are much larger forces at work here. The honesty and integrity of Street Kids Direct and all the volunteers oozes out a reputation of care and trust amongst the children here. I’m thankful that God is ever present and a central focus to the charity and all the good work that is being done. Quite selfishly I feel honoured to have been part of a jigsaw that has allowed this boy to have trust albeit for a couple of hours to hear God’s word and hopefully feel His pure, honest and loving touch.