I had a moment one morning where I found myself completely alone. Looking up to the second story of Nueva Vida, I saw Carlos sitting by himself. Oddly, that’s where he had been for most of the weekend, so I took advantage of this quiet moment to see what was up. The tears pooled in his eyes the moment I sat down and asked if he was ok. After only being there for a little over a week, he said that he thinks he needs to leave Proniño. (Oh, geez. Sixteen years old. Third chance in Proniño. This, most likely, is the final
opportunity for him.) Why Carlos? “It’s not fair for me to be here when my brother is still at home being abused by our dad. I need to go help him.” But the reality is that before coming to Proniño, he was huffing glue on the street. He ran away from a center in the southern part of Honduras and passed his hometown as he traveled back to San Pedro. If he runs away from Proniño, he’ll return to the street, not home.
Later in the day, I was talking to someone about this and they said, “See, he’s lying. He’s being dramatic when all that he wants is the street.” This has stuck with me for weeks. And I firmly disagree. If he runs away tomorrow, where will I find him? On the street. But does that mean that what he told me was a lie? Absolutely not. The physical and emotional abuse that he experienced at the hands of his father was severe. When he was fourteen he was sent on an errand, and never returned. As he detailed what he, his brother and his mom had been through, I wanted to congratulate him for making such a wise and brave decision to leave. With no supportive family and no other recourse, the street was the only viable option. An addiction to glue quickly followed.
But this kid is pretty incredible. Kids who experience violence so often become violent. He’s more the kill em with kindness type. And seeing his inner conflict was so moving. He is the older brother who feels a responsibility to protect and rescue his younger brother. But he’s 16 and afraid of the violence that he has experienced all too many times. And now he’s torn. There’s the guilt over being the one that got away, abandoning someone he loves in the process. And he’s trying to convince himself that he’s now strong enough, that the street doesn’t have a hold on him and that he can overpower or deflect the anger of his dad. “It’s been two years. He probably has changed by now.” Sometimes we say what we hope to be true, even if it’s founded on wishful thinking. This does not make that the words a lie.
I’m pulling for Carlos. I don’t think that he can stand up to his Dad, but I do think that he is strong. He has survived so much. He’s been through hell and remains sensitive and caring. That, in itself, is inspirational.