“You’re going to get robbed.” That’s what we first thought William was telling us. Then we thought he said that just I (Theresa) was going to get robbed. And then Jeff’s Spanish finally kicked in and we figured out that he wasn’t saying we’d be robbed; he was saying that someone was going to steal me from Jeff. (Awfully nice of him, since the cold showers, crazy humidity, and travel wardrobe aren’t really doing a lot for me.)
At sixteen, William is a romantic. He told us about his girlfriend and showed us the ring she had given him. He quizzed Jeff and I on how long we’d been married and whether we were “in love.” In many ways, he was a typical teenager. In so many ways, however, he’s not. William is one of 15 boys who live at Si a la Vida, a home on Ometepe for boys who were once street kids, abandoned by their parents and addicted to sniffing glue, the drug of choice for those unable to afford anything stronger.
The Si a la Vida boys have seen hard times, harder times than probably any of us can imagine. But spend a little time with them, and it’s almost hard to believe their background because they are sweet and funny and almost uniformly optimistic. They’ve come to the Ometepe location of Si a la Vida on their own free will, after first spending time at the Managua location where they overcame their addictions and gained a support system, often for the first time. On Ometepe, they live together in a wonderful home, attend school, receive counseling, get regular healthcare, and act like typical adolescent boys. For most of the boys there, this is the only home they have ever known, and they are welcome to stay until they are grown up and able to live on their own.
Yesterday Jeff and I spent the morning at Si a la Vida, the objective of our visit being to drop-off a bag of goods we’d transported down here. We’d worked with a group called Charity Begins, which I wrote about in a previous post, to get the donated items, and though carting the bag around on the five million types of public transportation we had to take to get here was a bit of a pain, it was totally worth it.
We ended up spending a few hours with the kids, hanging out through a torrential downpour up until the boys had to head to school (they go from noon to 5 p.m. around here). We watched them play games, answered questions, admired the bracelets they make and sell as a source of income, joked with them, and just hung out. Though I often found myself frustrated with my lack of Spanish knowledge (and thus all the more ready for the language class we plan to take next week), I think I was still able to connect. Language differences be damned…adolescent boys are adolescent boys and with three brothers, I’m pretty well versed in that language.
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