Her name was Julian. She was among the kids who came early in the morning when we parked our car in the sight. Every one of them huddled to their Ate Jasmine as she browsed the book for today’s lesson. The chairs were already there. All is ready.

There was less of the adults and more of the kids that morning, and everyone made a clamor of all sorts, starting with a kid who cried after being scratched, another bullying someone smaller, and others making noises in their own places. Not a good morning to start with a song, but I did it, nonetheless. 80% of them couldn’t read, so they had to rely on the lyrics they hear from me. It’s not easy playing the piano with one hand, holding the mic with another, and then going on slowly to make sure the kids get the song’s lesson. Fifteen minutes and a half-a-dozen of riots later, we stopped to move to our new segment.

Remember when I was in Atlag UMC, when I was part of the Worship Team and then the only one attending to the children’s Sunday School? Good old times. Except that none of these kids had any inkling for obedience, listening, rewarding and kindness. None. Nada. All of them were like predators ready to pounce upon one another, wanting to be first. Wanting to get attention. Wanting to get a good high-five or if there’s any, a prize. I’m torn in half between establishing discipline and being kind, because these kids are so poorly in every sense that my heart is wrung at the sight of them.

Not all of the kids are terrible. It’s not like that’s all they are; they’re just unpolished little rocks left aside to exist on their own. In their young lives, they’re fighting for survival. They’re fighting for dignity. They’re fighting for attention. There was one kid kept nudging to for art time even though it wasn’t art time yet; and after insisting for a long time, he walked away and left, only to come back during the session when everyone was coloring while he, he didn’t want to. Dignity scarred, y’all. I long to tell them, “Kids, be kids. When you’ve done a mistake, apologize. Don’t keep yourselves from enjoying things you could just because your little pride took over.”

Ego isn’t something you should nurture, especially at a young age.

But it’s not the kids’ fault. It’s the parents. It’s the parents who sent them into this wild of the world and left them there to take care of themselves. After all, they need to work on many other things: life, happiness, satisfaction, beauty, entertainment, etc. These kids have been pushed away onto the streets, and they are left to discover things on their own terms. Unfortunately, this place is not a good ground for growing good seeds.

A few hopes

  • I hope the kids will find time to realize that the dusk has beautiful colors. But unfortunately, they had to rush to their homes because most parts of their village had no electricity.
  • I hope the kids will learn to read. I really do. Ram is probably eleven, but he cannot read properly. I hope I could teach them how to read without making them feel awkward.
  • I hope they don’t just demand. But the poor demands, because they have always been lacking and wanting. But what I don’t like: the kids think that it is our duty to provide them their wants. I mean, c’mon; they’re always spreading their palms and asking “5, ate” every dismissal. No.
  • I hope the kids won’t just hit each other at random for heaven’s sake.
  • I hope we determine if Mae-mae is a special child because, honestly, she looks like it. If not, she looks like a very uncared-for little girl who has little understanding of what’s going on around her. I hope she grows well.
  • I hope that Cate and Tisoy finally have their slippers.
  • I hope Julian never feels different despite her cleft palette. She is such a wise kid. She lacks some finesse, well, like other kids, but she’s brilliant and I have high hopes for her. I hope she conquers what society thinks as a “disability.”
  • I hope to be everything I can while we are together. Each Sunday is a challenge, but God provides strength and wisdom when we push our mountains forward. There have been many times I complained at the situation today, how it’s not right, how it’s not proper, but the kids don’t know that. And this is what I am here for. So enough eye-rolling. Let’s get to work!