I regret to inform that we still have not starting practicing regularly. I am hoping that after a fundraising trip to the US in November, we will be able to start in January. We have been short on long term volunteers to help run our other programs and therefore have not really had the staff to dedicate to this program. But this should also be changing around the month of January. So hopefully we will start up at that point.
During these past few months, I have been able to spend some more time meeting some of the younger boys on the streets - boys who were not around when we began working with this population in 2006. I met one who comes over each week from a town called Navarete which is about an hour away. I asked about his family. His mother lives in Navarete. I asked if she sends him over to Puerto Plata where he shines shoes, begs, and sleeps on the streets and in random places. He said no. I asked if she is happy that he comes. He said no. She does not want him to come. I encouraged him to then, not come. Because he is little and when you aren't under your mother or father or caregiver's wing, people can take advantage of you, influence you badly, etc. He should listen to her and stay home. Is she not able to feed him? He said that she is able to feed him. Does he not have neighbors to play with. He said that he does. Then stay home! What are you looking for? You're a little kid! He smiled and nodded to all of this. This is a common practice among Haitian male youth. And I have learned that with a boy on the street, you have to make sure that they are not being disobedient to parental figures before helping them..or else you are actually luring them from parents. Mothers stay absolutely heart broken over their young boys who love the streets.
Another boy who shoe shines is in a different situation. His mother is dead and his father is a boko, which is a voodoo priest. He does not like to be around the morbid and Satanic practices that go along with his dad's lifestyle and profession and does not live with his father. He makes quite an effort to earn money shining shoes. He is a great canditate to receive help through the soccer team. However, we would take much caution before entering him into our group home as he is already 15 or 16 years old. If he were to decide to disobey at some point, he is already large and would be hard for the responsible members to handle. This is why, when introducing new members, we normally introduce younger boys around age 12.
We recently created an online store to sell t-shirts and other items. One design is specific for supporting these boys on the streets. "Grapiyay" is a word that means a person who lives in the streets in Haitian Creole. Many Haitians use it in a derogatory manner, but boys on the streets often own it, calling each other this word and even sometime one's own self. Therefore, we have created this design to support these boys with the home, soccer team, and other classes such as the sewing class we recently began. Sewing is a skill that can provide quite steady income and many men actually do it.
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