Saturday, May 9, 2009

Street Kids Dreams

Waiting is never lonely in Haiti when your eyes and heart are open.  

Today I was waiting with Amanda by the bay, looking out at the water when a street kid walked up to us, hoping to sell us a mango.  

I asked him how much his mango was selling for, and he told me a Haitian dollar.  I reached into my bag, and told him that I didn't have a dollar to buy the mango, but would he take a mango instead?

He laughed, told me I was clever, made the mango trade, and ran off to his group of street kid friends sitting on the dock.  A couple moments later, he and his friends wandered up, still laughing about my witty suggestion for a trade.  Being that Amanda and I had a surplus of mangos back home, I handed my personal sack of mangos to the boys, and we sat savoring the sweet taste and enjoying the ocean breeze in quiet contentment. 

As mango juice dripped down chins, I asked where they each came from, how many siblings they had, and whether or not they went to school.  They each answered in turn, most of them coming from the area, not one having less than four siblings, and a couple lucky to currently be going to school. 

Wanting to get away from typical conversation, and being that I myself have recently been pondering the question, I asked them each what they wanted to be when they grew up.  A doctor. A musician. A mechanic. A singer. An artist. A farmer. A police officer.  They were each confident and decisive in their answer, and left little room for hesitation.  

The future doctor was laughed at when he responded.  As, according to his buddies, there is no way you are going to have luck at becoming a doctor if you don't have luck at going to school.

The farmer was serious in his hopes of aiding the hungry bellies of his country, and the police officer was teased and poked fun at because right now the police don't reside high on the list of street kids friends. 

I looked into each excited face, and listened to each dream that seemed so tangible when thought of in conversation.  We conversed a little more about the importance of school, and the difference in education between small schools and big schools, and then it was time for Amanda and me to end our wait. 

The boys smiled at us, and started to turn and walk away.  Hey, I shouted to them.  A last thought entering my mind.  Don't forget what we have talked about, and don't forget to hold onto your dream of what you are going to be when you grow up.  Keep it in your head, and one day, maybe you will reach it.  They nodded their heads, smiled, and turned.

I watched our future doctor, musician, police officer, singer, mechanic, artist, and farmer walk away, and asked myself- 

Will the dreams in these little heads ever get the chance to become a reality?  Or will reality make an appearance and squash these dreams?  

I don't know the answer to these questions, but I do know that they should have a chance.  The last question is- 

Will we give it to them? 

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