Saturday, October 15, 2011

What do you do when you see an injustice?

The other day I posted about a card game with some street boys and the adventure that that turned into (you can Read it here.  Yesterday, I went back to the same area to play some more games.  I took a small, magnetic checkers game with me.  I sat down across the street from the Khetias (which I told the manager that I will never shop at again after the other day).  There was a cement piece sticking out of the dirt, so I sat down there and opened up my checkers board onto my lap.  Before any kids came up, two adults came up and asked about it.  One of them ended up asking to play.  My first thought was to say no because I was there to be with street kids, not the adults, but I thought it best to go with it.  I'm glad that I did, for a reason that will show soon.  As he beat me pretty badly at a game, a few kids wandered over.  This man came and went a few times; he runs a little shop behind where I was.

The past few weeks I have been having some back pain and after a little while of sitting on this cement slab, my back was begging for a back rest.  I took my little group over to a sidewalk so I could sit against the shops.  Some of the kids played some more checkers, while the rest tried to teach me some Swahili words.  After a bit, a guard came over and asked us to leave.  This guy was different than the previous one though.  He was polite, for starters.  And he wasn't allowing anyone to be sitting on the sidewalk; he didn't single me or the kids out.  I told him that I will respect that and we would move back to the dirt.  I only wanted to know why it was a problem (don't worry, I asked politely).  He was kind and explained that this street has a bank on and he didn't want people idling (loitering, back home) near the bank.  Satisfied with his explanation, we moved back.

Remember that first man that played checkers?  Well, he came back out and brought us all outside of his shop to a table and told us that we could sit on the table and carry on.  I was sure glad that I didn't ignore him earlier!  We carried on for a while longer.  Then, the shop owner from next door came out carrying a long pipe.  The kids ran to the corner right away and huddled behind each other.  He started after them, shaking this pipe.  I yelled at him and asked what he was doing; was he going to hit these boys?  His answer was that he was going to "discipline" them with the pipe.

Okay, stop for a minute.  If you know my background, you may understand why this would set me off.  I have zero tolerance for anyone who abuses a child.  I'm not talking about a spanking.  I'm talking about abuse.  I consider hitting a child with a pipe abuse.  By this time I was pretty ticked at him.  I told him, "if you want to hit someone with that pipe, you come and hit me, not these boys.  But I promise you, I'll hit back.  And I'll hit you much harder".  He went on to explain that these kids have run away from their parents and need to be beaten.  I again told him that it isn't his job to discipline them and that if he hit them, he and I would have a fight.  He was shocked that I would fight him over these street boys.  But I would have had he not backed down.  I was seconds away from pulling the baton out of my bag and going after him.  I will NOT sit by while someone abuses a child.  I'm sorry, I just won't stand for that.  Not here, not back in the States.  Nobody has the right to abuse a child and no child deserves to be abused.  We argued for about a minute or two before he told me that these kids bother him because "they smell bad".  I'll admit, they did smell bad.  A few of them reeked of glue and bad BO.  But I still sat with them and played games and hugged them.  I told this man to go back in his shop and he wouldn't have to smell them anymore.  He realized that I was serious.  I told him one last time that if I ever find out he hit one of these boys I would come into his shop and he and I would have a big problem.

When he finally backed down and went back to his shop, the kids came back with such thankfulness on their faces.  This may very well have been the first time ever that someone has stood up for them.  That's a shame.  There were other adults sitting around that gave me looks of approval.  That's great, but they still just sat there as this man was about to beat these kids.  They saw the injustice and were going to just allow it to happen.  That's unacceptable to me.  I'm not some big, macho guy that doesn't feel pain.  I know full well that had this man hit me with that pipe, it was going to hurt.  I also know that it would have been well worth it.  That pipe would have done a lot more damage to these kids (some were barely 9 or 10 years old).

The question now becomes what will you do when you see an injustice?

No comments:

Post a Comment