A couple of years ago when I traveled to Zim, I met a wonderful young boy named Felix. He is not one of the boys that I am able to keep in touch with, but his story still visits my mind. Felix was orphaned because he was unwanted.
I used to think that "orphaned" meant that both parents had died, and most often it does. Sometimes 1 parent has died and the other could not cope, or could not afford the child. Sometimes parents literally drop their children off at orphanages and they never look back. This is where I feel we truly take our opportunities in America for granted. While we moan about the costs of these programs, and the abuse of them.... programs like welfare, food stamps, WIC, government subsidized housing (projects), free meal plan, social security, medicare, medicaid, unemployment insurance and and "free" public education.....just don't exist in most of the world. In some regards, the poorest nations in the world are the most expensive ones to live in.
Back to Felix.... I met Felix at a boys home and got to speak with him privately several times. He was 15 then. Felix wanted to help the missionaries with our projects. He wanted to work. We discussed so many things....Felix loves movies and had many questions about America. After time, I discovered that Felix has a brother and a mother. A mother? Really? I thought he was an orphan. He hadn't seen his mother in many years. He said his parents divorced and his father was trouble. His mother gave up Felix and his brother due to heartache and inability to care for them. It took me a while to muster up the courage to ask him, but I eventually asked where his mother lives and if he wanted to see her. He explained to me that he and his brother think she lives in a village (and he told me where)...and I happened to know that the area was a drive about 20 minutes....because I had just been to that very village the day before. When I asked if he wanted to ever see her, his answer shocked me. He said that he would love to see her....he said this with a light all over his face. His next words broke my heart. He said "I would pray that she would be so sweet to me". He said that with a light as well.
I listened to him daydream outloud about reuniting with his mom, while I sat on the floor and painted benches for the lounge of this boys home. My heart was so tight and my throat was exercising strength to hold in my sobs. I wondered if his momma longed to be sweet to him, although I'm not sure she does.
Knowing that the distance was not too far (by my standards)...I asked him about seeing her. He responded that he cannot because the bus is $4.
The next time I went to this boys home, I had wanted to give Felix $4. Felix wasn't there that day and I didn't see him again. Felix was strong, tender, brave and courageous...considering his circumstances. Remarkably to me, all of the children I meet are notably extraordinary. I'm choking back sobs now as I just attempt to share them with you. Unlike most of us....we live in relatively good lives and occasionally face adversity. They live lives of adversity as the daily norm, and occasioanlly face good.
The point I want the readers to grasp here is that the world "there" can halt over $4.
In Felix's country, there is no free public education. No free lunch. Not only are there fees to attend school, but there are fees required to take tests and a fee to advance to the next grade level. There might as well be a fee to walk and a fee to breathe. Food is ridiculously expensive. It is truly no wonder to me that the kids in countries like this turn to crime for survival. There are no opportunities.
I think these kids may be espeically at risk because they live in a pretty big city....a city that is falling apart. They don't live in village huts, being raised by the villagers. They don't live near streams and animals.... they cannot hunt and farm. They live surrounded by wealth, their own people, who see them as nothing more than a nuisance.
This is why Beautiful Feet Global Outreach desires desperately, through God's guideance and grace, to get these incredible kids through school and create further educational opportunities for them....so that they can learn a trade/skill to be able to generate incomes & opportunities. When we ask for help and donations, prayers, encouragement and support.....it is because the situation is emergent.