Thief

Thief

Prison

November 9th 2015

1:30am

As I stir in my sleep, and my eyes open slightly, I see an arm. An arm and a head slipping through my open doorway. Strange: I never sleep with my door open. The body disappeared for a moment and then it was back. An arm quietly pulled my door slightly less ajar.

Thoughts were racing through my mind. I’d been robbed before. I checked if my laptop & phone were still near me; I glanced at my drawers to see if they’d been opened. They hadn’t. I listened. Someone was in the room next to me – either the kitchen or the bathroom. I listened. Rustling papers & subtle movements confirmed the presence of… someone.

For some reason I thought it was a young woman; her figure was short with thin arms. I quietly sat up and looked across the room. There it was : my backpack was missing.

I walked into the kitchen. Pain was thrust into my heart. A child stood beside my dissected backpack. A child I know. A child I love and had such hopes for. In that moment, the last glimmer of hope I had for him was stomped out.

“What are you doing?!” I cried. My heart dropped. Could this be happening? Last week this child had been imprisoned for robbing another home; the police had let him go & I’d had a meeting with him and his mother. We’d reunited him with his family almost a year ago, and placed him in school. He had already passed his first year and was beginning second grade. Why? Why did he have to do this?

I pulled his head to my chest and asked him: Why is he hurting himself? Why would he do this to me? I wanted to help him. Shock and a deep sadness pushed tears from my eyes and I started to tremble. I leaned back from the child and asked him again: Why?

“ I just came to sleep here with you,” he lied. “I just needed a place to sleep.”

Tears were in his eyes.

I shook my head and took his hand. “Let’s go.”

If it was someone else who had caught him stealing, this child would have gone to jail. Or – more likely – he may have been killed. When street children are caught stealing, they are often shot, attacked with machetes, or dramatically injured otherwise. I told him that. It scared me. Another person could have killed him! What will this addiction do to him? Will it take his life one day?

I saw the child to the door. As he left I crumbled. I started shaking and crying again. What hope does this child have? Who else would help him? His own mother is ashamed to have him in her home.

So what do I do? Do I continue to hope for him? Do I continue to try and bring change to his life? These children are the ones who need the most – the most affection; the most hope; the most guidance. They don’t have any. But… his addiction to stealing is so deeply set. I don’t know if it can be broken.

Haiti needs a juvenile detention system. A social program for children involved in crime. Haiti needs it badly.

Losing hope is emotional torture.

Thief
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