This is Edgar. He is one of the first Nueva kids that I got to know. He has an incredibly flat head and gets made fun of a lot and always says that he’s ugly, so I’ve always tried to hang out with him and boost his self-esteem a bit. About 5 boys have escaped from Nueva recently and with so many kids leaving I was nervous that he would try to leave too, and then two weeks ago, it happened. He escaped with 2 other boys. He used to live in Pronino so I called Kevin (street outreach worker from Pronino) and he suggested I look in a particular gas station in San Pedro because that’s where he found him last year, begging for money. That Saturday night I decided to stop at the gas station on my way back to Casa Elias to buy some ice cream and look for Edgar. I parked my truck and started to walk around when immediately I saw a little person walking in the dark between two cars. Edgar. Seeing him walk out of the shadows is a sight that I want to burn into my brain. I just hugged him for a long time. I called Yann and he said to bring him to the house to eat dinner and then we’ll figure out what to do with him. We went into the gas station to buy ice cream and I’m sure we looked like quite a pair. A gringa with the boy that had been begging for money all week strolling around looking for ice cream. Ha!
As soon as we got to the house Yann noticed that something was off. He said his eyes looked a little bit messed up. I was just so excited to have found him that I didn’t notice a thing. Yann sat him down pretty quickly and asked him about his week. And specifically if he had used any drugs. Yes. Ugh. He had gotten high on Resistol (glue) twice. Glue is a huge problem with street kids here. It’s really cheap to get and it takes away any hunger or thirst pangs that the kids have. And it makes you feel happy. What would you want to do when you’re hungry, thirsty and unhappy? Make all of those things go away. And the glue does that for them. He had gotten high that day and apparently was still feeling the effects of it.
We ate pizza and played games and then it was time for bed. We decided that we would move two mattresses into the living room and Edgar and I would sleep out there. I had heard from boys in Nueva that Edgar would sometimes hit kids while they’re sleeping and we didn’t want to put David in any danger. Once we got settled in, Edgar spent the next hour babbling away. He told me more about life with his father before being put in various centers. Some good things like trips to Copan and going to his favorite restaurant, and others like “He hit me a wire. Here is one of the scars. But he’s my Dad, so …” followed by a shrug. He told me about how he survives on the street – sleeping on the ground behind a bank, which gas station guards were nice and which were violent, that the older kid I found him with did a lot of drugs but protected him, that an American lady gave him 50 Lempiras. But mainly he just kept rubbing his arms and legs and saying “I’m so clean!” And “I’m so happy!” (In both English and Spanish.) And “I’m wearing boxers!” (Underwear is definitely a luxury here.)
The next morning was probably one of the best I’ve had here. We woke up and watched cartoons and ate pancakes.
He helped wash a bed.
I taught him how to play some games on the computer. I just kept thinking – I can’t believe that last night he would’ve been sleeping on the street. No child should ever have to do that.
Then the time came for us to figure out what in the world to do with him. He had a history with Proniño so I could try to take him there, but they are more or less full so I wasn’t sure if they would take him. Yann suggested we go check out a center called Sampedrana. He usually talks pretty badly about this center so I was skeptical from the beginning. It is a Honduran organization that gets so much money donated to them every year and yet very little of the money actually reaches the center, BUT the director has a VERY nice car. So frustrating. But it’s a place to sleep, they get three meals a day and they are allowed to leave the center during the day, which is better than the street. So, I went with Yann to check it out. It was terrible. Absolutely terrible. So dark and depressing. I ended up having to go sit in the car and wait for Yann. I just kept hearing his little voice “Jenny, I’m so happy!” and then I’d think of bringing him here and my eyes would well up with tears. I more or less cried the whole way back, then tried to pull it together when we arrived. Edgar knew where we went so he immediately pulled me aside to ask how it was. I tried very hard to explain it to him in a way that focuses on the facts, not the turmoil of emotions I was feeling. I didn’t get very far when Edgar interrupted me and said “Jenny, your eyes. They’re wet.” Oh my goodness. His tenderness was like a punch in the stomach. I hugged him, then went to the bathroom to have a serious talk with myself to pull it together! Next, we ate lunch and Yann was explaining to some visitors what was going on and that we were trying to figure out what to do with him, which for some reason made me all emotional and AGAIN he said “Jenny, your eyes again?” Ay, yay, yay.
It got the point that I couldn’t put it off anymore, we had to go Proniño to see if they would accept him. But first we had to get him some clothes. (His dirty nasty ones were still wet.) So we went to a department store. He was wearing my sandals and a pair of my shorts that I had made ‘tighter’ by cinching it with clothespins. I’m sure we looked totally normal… He quickly picked out an outfit, but the best part with the escalator. It was his first time on an escalator and as we got close to the top he squeezed my hand sooo tight and then jumped to solid ground dragging me behind him.
Then it was time. We headed over to Proniño. What were they going to do? They are really hurting financially and I want to HELP this organization with their financial troubles, not make it worse by bringing another kid. And yet, what could I do? I couldn’t drive him back to the gas station and wish him luck. So, there I was, about to make waves (which I hate more than most things). We arrived and the Director happened to be there. (It was a Sunday evening.) I was prepared with a speech and all the reasons why they had to take him. I greeted Reginaldo and simply said “I found him begging at a gas station in San Pedro last night.” and Reginaldo immediately welcomed him and asked him about his time on the street and told him that if he was going to live in Proniño again then he has to change his behaviour (I guess he was really out of control last time.) Now I was about to cry from relief. This is one of the many reasons why I love Proniño so much. Yes, it wasn’t ideal to add another child, but they aren’t going to send the child back to the street. So now, two weeks later, Edgar is adjusting to life in Proniño. As he’s getting comfortable I’m definitely seeing the rotten Edgar more than before, but I believe in him and I tell him that every time I see him. And he now has hope. Hope for an education. And now he can do more than just survive.
I was talking to him today and mentioned that I hadn’t eaten lunch yet (it was 3 o’clock). He gasped and said “Poor Jenny! You haven’t eaten yet?” I hugged him as I thought about how not long ago he had gone days without eating and how now I know that he had lunch and I know that he will have dinner and then after that he’s going to go to his own bed and sleep. And I am so, so grateful.