I’ve been sitting on this story for a while now. Figuring how best to present it. The decision to write it today came down to this being a story about a smart kid and I’m raising funds for education. See the correlation?
This is how I first met Eduardo.
He was being punished and he was mad. He had just tried to run away, again.
But don’t worry, he warmed to me.
He may have been the most ornery child I have known. I’d watch as he’d poke another child until child being poked erupted and a rapid chase would ensue. But being quick and squirrly, he was rarely caught, adding to the frustration of the previously poked boy. He’s also one of the few boys who is in his age appropriate grade at school. I’ve helped him with his homework before and for him, learning is a breeze. But, while in the States, I’d get updates on groups of kids who had tried to run away. And Eduardo was consistently one of them. It was like he was always up for an adventure. Thankfully, his attempts were largely unsuccessful.
Until a year and a half ago. He ran away from school and headed to his grandma’s house. My friend Yann is close to Eduardo and knows his family. So, to grandma’s house we headed as well. We found him on a bike with a beat up soccer ball on his way to a game. And this child who once clung to me so tightly wouldn’t look us in the eye much less let us come near him. Apart from us hogtying and throwing him in my truck, he was not coming with us.
Two months later, Sean and I were in Honduras and thought we’d try it again. The kids in the neighborhood told us he rarely slept at home, choosing the underside of a nearby bridge most nights. Once again, we found him, and he wouldn’t let us near. He had a nasty infected cut on his foot and I had to swear up and down that I just wanted to look at it, that my goal was not the aforementioned hogtying. We talked to his sister who said she was worried about him and wanted him to go back. But being in a strange and slightly intimidating neighborhood we opted to leave instead of attempting an attention drawing capture.
A few hours later, my phone rings. It’s grandma. She wants us to come back the next day to get Eduardo AND his brother Javier. She promises they’ll be ready and he’ll return. Hmm.
We arrive and find him with his friends, but in his best clothes. He still looks tough and reserved, but today he also looks resigned. We all go into the house and as the boys settle into a chair in the corner, she starts to explain to us what Eduardo has put her through. She talks about how she can’t control him, that he’s going to die on the street. She says that she tried to force him into the military so he could learn some discipline, but they wouldn’t take him. (Imagine that. They won’t accept a teeny 11 year old.) She tells us that she has leukemia and is going to die soon and just can’t deal with him. As she talks, I glance his direction and see his big eyes wide open, staring into space and welling with tears. What does it do a child to hear this? She has never met me, and yet she called me to come collect her grandsons. She thinks that she could die any day, and if they’re in Proniño, he’s not going to get regular updates on her health. Plus, his mom left them in search of a better job in the States, and has since started a new family. I know that grandma is going through a lot and is most likely at her wits end, but how many blows can one heart take?
We left them alone to say goodbye. They cried the whole way to Proniño. And I agonized. What in the hell am I doing?? What right do I have to affect this child’s life in this way? Is this really what is best? But I clung to a few vital facts:
1. He was sleeping in the street.
2. He was not going to school.
3. Because of her health and financial situation, his grandma could not care for him.
It’s been a year and a half and this frequent run away hasn’t even attempted to leave. I hate that he heard everything his grandma said, and I strive to counter those negative words with lots of my own positive ones (and would love for him to have a sponsor who would do the same!), but I think that experience did wake him up a bit. In the last year and a half he has changed his ornery hat for a more studious one (with an ornery feather still sticking out the back). I really am amazed by how much he has matured.
So, back to the education piece. The main thing that I clung to as we were bringing him back was that in Proniño he will receive an education that will drastically alter the trajectory of his life. The more education he receives the less chance that his kids, or nephews, will grow up in a children’s home. Donating to Ornaments for Educations is an investment in him, the 89 other kids at Proniño and the next generation of squirrly Honduran boys.
Plus, I still have the two ornaments that he made….
Today, we’re still 39% to the goal! To make a donation, please click here.