As I continue to ride my rollercoaster of a life I sometimes wonder if it will ever stop! Emotionally exhausting and extremely frustrating with never ending quantities of patience required. Not my most well known trait.
Last week I began to hear rumours from various sources in
Olongapo that boys other than Paul and Joel were staying at the rented
house and that Joel was not attending school and was using solvents
again. I had made the situation very clear during my previous visit and
was just waiting for an adult to witness the solvent abuse first hand
before I took action. In dramatic fashion, well it couldn't really
happen in any other way could it as this is my life, I received
information from Paul that Joel was in fact using solvents in company
with Simon and a few other boys. On the same evening Zee informed me
that Joel had turned up at her place high on solvents and not appearing
to realise that it was obvious.
I decided that I had to take
decisive action to prevent the boys using the house as a solvent haven
and to protect Paul from the influence of his friends. Reporting his
best friend like this was a very tough thing for Paul to do and is
virtually unheard of in the streetworld. I always tell the boys that if
they try to do what's right I will meet them halfway and help them and
although I knew that Paul had probably also made mistakes I could see
that he was trying to do what was right even when surrounded by family
and friends who were making no effort whatsoever.
I went to the
house with Zee to put an end to the disaster and found Joel, Simon and 1
other boy asleep in the house. Paul was awake and seemed prepared for
what was about to happen. I spoke to him separately and offered him a
final opportunity to get away from the temptations of his old life by
coming to live at my church in Cubao temporarily. He was worried about
his family so I made some arrangements to help them and try and put his
mind at ease. Then he agreed to come.
After talking briefly to
the other boys I informed them that Joel would no longer be living at
the house and that they should all leave as I had evidence that they
were using solvents again. Joel tried to deny it but then admitted that
he had been using a solvent but that as it wasn't rugby he thought it
didn't count as I had only mentioned that they weren't to use rugby! I
ended this conversation abruptly and then we endured the three boys
mocking us as they packed up their things. Joel took great delight in
dramatically removing his school books and uniform from his bag and
dumping them in the house, signalling his future intentions. I couldn't
resist telling them as they left that I would see them in Rehab next
year as ultimately that is where they will end up (again!)
no measure of satisfaction as I said this, only deep sadness at the
ruined lives that had shown promise (particularly in Joel's case.) I
also felt great frustration towards a system that had allowed one boy
(Simon) to leave rehab halfway through a school year but had not allowed
him to resume his education on the outside. This began the spiral for
Joel as he was drawn back into his old circle of friends by Simon who,
through no fault of his own, didn't have anything better to do with his
After the noisy trio had made their exit, the three of us
(Paul, Zee and I) stood in sober silence for a few seconds as we
recovered from the confrontation, and the knowledge that we had just
made 3 teenagers homeless, and gathered ourselves for the next stage.
to deal with the landlady who had endured a lot more than was
reasonable without complaint and had even tried to help the boys in some
ways. We came to an agreeable arrangement and I think she was relieved
that the boys would be moving on. She told me that it had been a
refreshing change to meet people like us as she didn't come across
people that really cared everyday. I was encouraged that at least out
Christian witness to her had remained intact. I gave her a copy of my
told her the code names of the boys that she had been half-supervising.
She was very excited and wanted an inscription. She also bought one of
the new mattresses from us as we left!
Paul carried his mattress
and pillow to the bus stop as we left straight away. Getting off the
bus in Cubao I tried to avoid the line of men attempting to escort
people to taxis for a price when the taxis are already lined up waiting
for customers. The ridiculous outcome after I had run around one such
man to flag down a taxi with a bus sitting impatiently behind it, in the
centre of the road, was that I was squashed underneath Paul's mattress
and pillow in the back of the car as Paul got in the front with the
driver. Obviously Paul had no idea where we were going and as I tried to
mumble directions through the material I was really more concerned that
I couldn't see whether the driver had even switched the meter on.
arrived at the church in the middle of the 11 year anniversary for the
homeless drop in people which was a bit chaotic just because there were
so many people milling around.
The next day Paul was enrolled at
the Alternative Learning System in Cubao for 2 hours a week and had 3
tooth extractions. He was also offered a great opportunity by a deacon
in our church. The deacon has a business painting vehicles and he
offered Paul a job as an apprentice Mon-Thurs and Saturday with Friday's
off for school.
Today was meant to be Paul's first day at his
new job but he turned up at my house early this morning to advise that
the Jeepney that he was meant to take hadn't turned up. So I advised him
to go to the area where he was meant to be working in a different
jeepney and then ask for the correct jeepney to get him to work. It
appears that he followed my instructions but I can't really believe what
Somehow whilst lost he saw the only person he
probably knows in the entire area of tens of thousands of people.
Unfortunately he knows this person who is a bi-sexual tattoo artist in
his late 30s from rehab because they mix the adults and children there.
This man is still taking hard drugs and invited Paul back to his house
where he offered him a job driving trucks! Paul declined the offer but
didn't know how to get back to Cubao so eventually contacted me on
facebook to advise where he was at which point I told him to come back
He arrived after 5pm looking a bit sheepish having
travelled around for quite a while and not having reached his intended
destination. I was so relieved to see him sober and drug and tattoo free
after his bizarre detour that any lecture I might have been preparing
went out of the window.
Tomorrow I will accompany him to work...please pray that we actually get there this time.