Way Places 357 June 2018
Today vs Tomorrow. The child vs the institution or the whole family.
Sometimes it feels like we have to choose one or the other.
We need and want to communicate with you, raise funds, pay the bills, and fix the deteriorated plumbing in the little boy’s house. But these institutional needs are in competition with day-to-day concerns. Axelito has a spreading rash NOW, Fernando came home with a written report for fighting in school today and Hilario’s mom hasn’t visited in weeks so he misses her and is lingering around the office for some TLC. Like many of you, we are also sometimes too preoccupied to stop and listen with our hearts.
Roberto graduated this week from primary school, a significant accomplishment among the poor here in Mexico. However, his mom didn’t attend his Rancho Del Rey (RDR) graduation ceremony. His great-grandmother, his primary caregiver, came, limping and determined, despite a broken arm. This phone conversation between Roberto and his mom gives a tiny window into his reality:
“Mom, please can I live with you this summer?”
“What about the extra bedroom?
YOUR STEPFATHER NEEDS IT FOR HIS STUFF
“I will sleep on the sofa.”
“I will sleep on the floor in the hallway.”
His mom is looking for love, too, and in the process has chosen Partner over son. She started a new family, abandoning the children from a previous relationship. Although Great-Grandma loves him and has raised him, the hurt is deep. Roberto is a disciplined athlete, clever with his hands and head and a wonderful artist, but his conduct in school and on Rancho demand attention. During Monday morning staff meetings we compare notes, trying to understand the puzzle that is Roberto. We pray for him, for his family and ask for discernment for ourselves.
Sixth-grade graduate David Santamaria wants to go back to life in the Street.
Although he has learned to read this year in 6th grade, and his life is so much better, there is still a strong pull to return to a lack of order and responsibility. David seems to be losing interest in everything. Relating to his peers is a struggle; he either withdraws or fights with everybody. Just when we think we’ll have time to write that next newsletter or organize receipts there is a phone call from the principal or a knock on the door. We turn our back to the work and our attention to David.
Children also struggle with choices, between living the institution family life that Rancho Del Rey offers, and the life they knew before Rancho Del Rey. The Rancho life offers rich spiritual blessings, love, order, education and structure. The old life promises chaos and an illusion of freedom. So summer becomes a two-edged sword, on one side an opportunity to realize what RDR means to and in their life. On the other side, this time away from their Rancho
home is a temptation to fall back into the old ways, the unstructured life of the Streets. Today Alexis says he wants to leave the Rancho to live with his Dad in the dangerous border city of Juarez. Life with Dad is fraught with unknowns, with danger and the allure of happiness, a choice to go through adolescence without the safety net, spiritual resources and opportunities of Rancho Del Rey.
Tomorrow the boys will need school supplies and school tuition. Today, in this moment, we need your prayers for the Robertos and Davids faced with confusing and harsh realities.
~~~~~ Susan Mino