There has been a beautiful progression this year that began a long time ago with Compasio sitting on concrete curbs getting to know the street kids. The friendship & trust that started there has blossomed into a deeper connection with the communities they come from.
We recently began getting invited to the homes of our street kids, and now we visit several families weekly just to connect and establish trust and share a family dinner. This past week, we took our new interns into the community to introduce them. It is time for school registration here, so one mother brought up her desire to send her children to school. Most of the children we work with are responsible for bringing in all or part of the family income through begging or collecting recyclables, so hearing her say this came as a surprise. She was unaware of how or where to register but she had been told the school costs, only a few dollars, but she couldn’t afford this.
Enrolling a child in school means that they are accounted for by the community and are not out begging or roaming the streets on their own. They are protected from all sorts of dangers; kidnapping, trafficking and abuse and criminal activity. Parents are desperate for money, and an offer to sell a child to Bangkok into to work or enter the sex trade is never far off.
One of the children we enrolled in school told us the tragic story of an older sister being sold to Bangkok earlier this year only to be raped and killed by her boss.
When a child is in school, parents much less likely to resort to these measures.
We found a quality school near their home and were able to enter these children, getting in just under the line with only two days left for registration. We then brought up the opportunity to several other families we are connected with and by the end of the day, eleven more children were registered for school with five more to sign up this week. We keep both the parents and the community involved in the process giving them ownership in their children’s education.
These children will need plenty of extra support throughout the year. Discipline, structure and mental effort is something they are not accustomed to. Compasio’s Burmese-speaking “Youth Mentors” are already excited about walking alongside them through this process. It will be a great opportunity to be positive role models for these children and their families.