Sunday, June 1, 2014

The final chapter of Peter Lojore

I have avoided this for a long time now. I have sat down to write this and abandoned it so many times. Part of me wants to say that Peter is gone and there is no point in writing about him anymore. Still, there is one final story to write.

Brief history: Peter is a boy that I met during my first 6 months in Kenya. When I found him he was beaten half to death. He was covered in blood and barely had a pulse. He was so badly dehydrated. I knew that if he wasn't treated soon he would die. I got him to the hospital (which was quite a production as we loaded this boy on the back of a motorcycle taxi!) and got him some help.

Peter and I became friends over the next few weeks. When I had him discharged from the hospital I offered to get him off of the streets and into a home. That's what we did. It felt so good! This 18 year old was no longer a street boy. Three days is all that the joy lasted for. That's when he went back to the streets. I left Kenya shortly after. When I got back I did not see him. My friends in town said that he was not doing well though. In early December of 2012 Peter died.

I wrote several times sharing his story, but I don't know that I ever wrote what it did to me. A few weeks ago I sat with someone and openly and honestly shared this, probably for the first time. I knew some things about Peter. He drank.  A lot. Most street boys in Kenya huff glue. It's a cheap drug that kills hunger and keeps them warm at night. Peter didn't do glue. But I knew that he drank. One of my friends, who happened to be our social worker at the time, told me how she knew Peter and often saw him drunk. I brushed it off, unable to fully understand how tight a grip that addiction had on Peter.

All I could think was that I would do it too if I lived on the streets. Before you judge that statement, I will challenge you with what I challenge so many with. Wait until late September or early October when the overnight temperatures are in the low 40's or upper 30's (yeah, it gets that cold in Kenya, believe it or not). Put on a ripped up t-shirt, ripped shorts and go barefoot. Eat a piece of bread for dinner and go sleep outside for the night with no blanket and no pillow. To get a true experience, have someone come and kick you overnight as the cops and security guards will often do to these boys. How many nights like that will you last like that? How long until you are willing to down a bottle of alcohol or huff some glue just to feel warm and help you fall asleep? I will start the answering. I give myself one night. Maybe. How about you?

So, I pushed aside the issue. I put Peter in the home of a man that I admired and greatly trusted. I will call him "John". Peter warned me about John. Peter told me that he was ripping me off and was dishonest. I would not believe that. I had known John for too long. I trusted him. Eventually, after Peter ran away, I found out that Peter was right. This man had me so fooled. He's nothing more than a common criminal that hides behind a few seemingly good deeds. The things that have come up about him since make me sick. I saw him twice before I left Kenya in August. It took every once of self control in my body to walk away from him.

Since the time that Peter died I felt guilty. But I don't think that I shared it very openly. When I sat with someone recently I finally said the words that I had been hiding from for over a year. "I killed Peter". That's what I had been hiding in my heart for so long. The thought that I killed him. I saved his life the day I met him, then I killed him. As I heard myself say the words out loud it sounded almost stupid.

There are so many things that I wish I had done differently. I wish that I had paid more attention to his alcohol abuse. I could have found him help for that. I wish that I had believed him when he warned me about John. I wish that I had tried harder to find him when I got back to Kenya. I wish that...

In the end I have to accept that I did the very best that I could with what I knew at the time. Peter made a choice. One that I wish he did not make. But it was his choice to make. And I know that I did not kill Peter, nor am I not responsible for his death. This does not take the heartache that I feel for Peter away. The lessons I learned from his story are some of the most difficult lesson that I've ever had to learn. But they are some of the most important ones too. Even now, his story still teaches me new things. Looking back knowing how Peter's story ended there are some things I would definitely do differently. One thing that I would not change is the first day that I met Peter. If I had it to do all over again nothing I did that day or shortly after would change.

Rest in Peace my friend.

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