Over the past two weeks I have checked out and been a part of some seminars and lectures (oh lala). One was on the jail system in our country and the other was about working with youth. The one on the jail systems opened up my eyes to a whole problem I have never even considered. I have always thought that whoever is in jail deserves it, they obviously have done something to get there. (If co-workers are reading this I PROMISE I HAVE CHANGED MY IDEA!!) Putting a child in jail serves maybe 1% of good. Hey, I mean they get some free meals and get to sit and watch some movies (which have guns and violence in them, real helpful in teaching anything right?) and just relax. Talking to one youth he said that his first time in, he didn't mind it because he just hung out. Another youth was outraged by the whole system because she has to earn a certain level (you get some privileges if you are a "good kid." She has to earn a level 4 privilege just to see her child). Why does she have to earn time to see HER child. ohh she was heated. Can't disagree with her either. At least she wants to see her child. (That isn't always the case). Why isn't there more money put into programs of discipline and learning? Instead there are thousands, I'm sorry Millions.... of dollars put into building huge stone walls, having the latest security systems, and not only structures, but employing people to work in the jail. You add that all up and you would be shocked! (I know I was) If a quarter of that money were put into after school programs for kids maybe there would be no reason to send a kid to jail because instead of being busy playin some ball they were robbing the gas station on the corner. Or if a crime was committed, why can't we put money into programs that actually work to teach kids something rather than shutting them up in a closet for a week? Believe me I could go on for hours and I realize this is only cracking the surface because I have only just began to learn.
I came into this experience thinking, "Hey yeah I get to work with at risk youth. Some may have come from jails, but I will get to talk and work with them and make them a better person!" Oh Bon. All I was thinking was that I wanted to help and learn. And oh have I learned. You can't try and tell them how to be successful. You have to listen. Think of success. Everyone has their own definition. I feel successful because I dreamed up a dream to serve volunteer other than KC. I succeeded. The biggest thing I have learned here in the past couple of weeks is presence. Presence can be one of your strongest tools and it can be the biggest difference in one of the kids lives. Has anyone ever really listened to them? no. (Hey PBMR spirituality!)
Over the past few weeks I have certainly found myself in a different world. I knew it would happen, but I guess I just didn't think it would be completely as is. I have not only two parents who are (aaaamazing) and are still together, two siblings, both still living. I have never had friends who were in gangs. I grew up never having to worry about food on the table or money. I got to grow up slowly (as it should be). I got to experience everything a kid should be able to experience. Talking with some of the boys and girls that walk in and out of our door I am shocked by the experiences that they grew up with. Again I am shocked by how I respond. I just sit and listen and ask more questions and they share what they want. They know (well maybe) I did not grow up as they did, yet they don't seem to care at all. I don't know how to put how that feels. Its not that I feel sorry for them, because then that sounds like I am judging. I guess its just hope. I hope that they can turn their experiences into memories that they do not want to re-live. I hope that they want to better themselves. I hope that they go to school to earn an education and learn to love and make a difference. I can sit and hope all I want. But sitting here and hoping for all these things doesn't do a whole lot. I gotta be present and put a little action into that hope.
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
(These blog posts are soooo scatter brained. If you can follow then I applaud you.)
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