10 May 2011

Buyela and the shelter

The majority of the first day I spent with Buyela YFC team was doing programs with the teenaged street boys that live at the shelter now. You could make a movie out of them… such history… such a life… such idiosyncrasies now because of their experiences. At one point the team did a drama that included a bullying that turned into a fight. The electrified energy that surged out of the shelter kids when the drama began was actually frightening. They were loving it - and I honestly thought they might jump in and make the play fight real just for the rush that was pulsing through them. Another time a siren went off and I tell you - they scattered - absolutely ran without a moment's hesitation. What Anthony and Pule and Rapule's lives must be like trying to provide consistency and growth for this group of boys - every single day. I had no idea. I mean, I've been there a few times before, but today was the first time I stayed long enough to actually see each boy for themselves - you know? I'm gonna have to step up my prayers for my friends.

So then at lunch, the neighborhood comes to Ikusasa shelter to have a meal. A smartly dressed woman with tears in her eyes and something heavy on her heart. Another, with that scared look to her eyes huddled off by herself not talking to anyone. A family who brought their dog. A friendly husband and wife. Men in their prime who have fallen on hard times. Old men who look as if they have seen many seasons on the streets. Everyone gets lunch, and friendship. Anthony says they feed about 100-150 people M-F.

Anthony, by the way, absolutely amazes me. He's young - not much older than the street kids he has such a heart for. Yet, he runs this center with precision and excellence. While he was explaining to the YFC team about their lunch time duties he said "We are young here - and many of these people we'll be serving are much older than we are. I don't care if they are belligerent, or filthy or so drunk they can't stand. We will treat each one of them them with respect because they are our seniors and they deserve that dignity."

One of the men called me over - saying he'd like me to take his picture - but first he'd like to take off his jacket. He fumbles with the zipper because one of his arms is casted up and unusable - so his friend comes to his rescue - unzipping the fleece to reveal a bare chest. Oh my goodness. We try to convince the man to keep his shirt on. It's cold. It's indecent. But he is insistent. He wants his picture with his shirt off. He's been assaulted. By white people. He's been to the hospital. He has a note. He wants a picture with his shirt off…

And ooooooooohhhhhhh - the face he pulled when I held the camera up to my eye.
Makes me laugh.

Believe it or not 9although I think you'll believe it), the rest of the time he was flirting and laughing and telling stories.
He wouldn't let me take a picture of that though…

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