Upon returning to work on Monday, I was able to pull myself out of the funk I had found myself in and set out to have a positive day. There’s something to refocusing your energy while you sleep so you wake up refreshed, ready to start anew. Also, the most important thing one can do to change their outlook on a tricky situation is to make sure that when you hop out of bed, you’re looking at the day as a new experience, not a continuation of the previous day or days to dread. With that being said, I continually reminded myself throughout the day that I was starting the week off right. To make sure that things went smoothly in the classroom, I told my boys that we were all going to have a good day, no one was going to get in any kind of trouble, we were all going to remain focused, and we would all cross the finish line at two thirty feeling good. And, of course, due to the positive vibe that all of that started, we had a successful, stress-free day—some boys tried to push the envelope, to see if I’d reprimand them, but I just threw love back in their faces…and they got back on track.

At the conclusion of the day, I found my supervisor and told her that I’d like to relinquish my duties working with the boys after school. After watching the disarray at the pool on Saturday, I’ve decided that it’s best at this point that I work on just being the boys’ teacher and not their chaperone/playmate after school hours. Thankfully, my supervisor had no issue with this, so now, I’m able to stay after school to prepare for the next days lesson, can keep my kids back if we have to review something that we missed during the day, or, best of all, I can walk out the door as soon as class is over and not look back until the next day. All three of these options are going to be good for my mental health over the course of the coming weeks. I’ve been reminded a few times over the last few weeks that the Christmas holidays are approaching. I will soon be done with my first semester of teaching.

The harmony of Monday was short lived, unfortunately. As my mini-bus pulled up to the orphanage gate this morning, I disembarked and quickly realized that something wasn’t right. There were hardly any boys running around the orphanage grounds. In fact, I spotted only two, each playing in separate mounds of dirt far away from one another. I dropped my things off in my classroom and then circled back to the main building where I found all of the boys chaotically scampering around. The high school boys hadn’t left yet, despite the fact that they have a twenty-minute drive into the city and school was about to begin. It turns out, some money was taken from an adult earlier in the morning, and the people in charge were trying to figure out who had taken it. It was a mess. I kept to the outskirts of the chaos, but I tried talking to a few boys about what had happened. I assessed the madness. All of the boys were missing out on their education for the morning because one person had stolen from an adult. I can’t say that I agreed with how the issue was being dealt with. Due to the general lack of discipline at the orphanage, the boys were treating the situation like it was just extra time to goof around. The little kids were all running around and the older boys were joking around with one another. I suppose if I was one of them, I would have just ignored the situation too and waited to be sent to school when I was told to go.

All in all, the whole situation just brings more of the issues of the orphanage to light. There is a lack of discipline, a lack of respect toward adults, no shame in stealing, and continued general chaos. How can we begin to fix these issues? How do we make things better for the boys who want to grow into respectable human beings, who want to do the right thing now?

By the time school started, it was after 9:30. I can’t say we had the most productive day after our rough start. The teachers continued to question the boys, threaten them, search them, call them “thieves.” Grade 5 was able to get a few lessons done, but my mind continues to wonder how I can help with the situations at the orphanage. I’ve got a large chunk of time that I’m still going to be living down here and working there, so what can I do?

The main question on my mind tonight is: how do you give to someone who has everything and nothing at the same time, when they want more of what they already have, and don’t realize they need what they have none of?

One thought on ““Thieves”

  1. You certainly have a tough “row to hoe”. I remember in high school having basketball practice at the nearby Boys Town. Even with the best intentions, physical setting and no where near the poverty your kids are immursed in, it was much the same. Bullying, theft, and all the rest. It seems to be a function of being untethered from a family and viewing everyone outside of yourself as a threat. I certainly have no idea how to deal with that. I wish you well. If anyone can make a difference, it is you.

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