In the streets of Bogot?, a child - named Simon* - wanders amidst the crowd. He is a lonely soul, lost in the multitude, forgotten by humanity, rejected by his society.
He looks like any other child. His eyes are full of dreams and hope. Yet, at the tender age of 10, he knows of hunger and distress. He knows of violence, terror and cold, but most of all . . . he knows of loneliness.
He is "nobody" to many, and only "someone" to himself. He has no parents to protect him. He has no home to shelter him. He has no place to belong.
As he walks down the busy streets, his hopeful eyes look for a place to sleep tonight. Will it be that corner? or Will it be that bench? Perhaps, it will be a lonely alley, as lonely as himself. He knows sooner or later he'll find the right place, where he might sleep safely in company of his street friends. If he could only ignore the stomach cramps tearing his inside! What he found in the trash just wasn't enough!
His little mind reminds him of his fellows in the streets. Six of them were lately found shot to death in a ditch. Will he end up like them or will he someday find that kind, caring hand that might save his life? If only there were someone to turn to, someone daring enough to care about children who, just like him, are innocent victims of human cruelty and pride. They are children their social system has forgotten, leaving them stranded to their own tragic fate . . .
"But, enough of this reality!" - he murmurs to himself. Another night has come. He gathers with other homeless kids who - like him - are children of the streets. They are the closest to a family he has ever had; the only human warmth he has ever known. They all share the same fears, the same dreams and pain. Rejection and neglect from those entrusted with their care brought them together and forced them to survive on their own. They try to keep warm and soothe their hunger pangs by sniffing toxic fumes from some type of imported glue. Every sniff kills a cell in their tender, yet still growing brain. Together, they will try to keep awake until exhaustion forces them to doze off.
They go to sleep praying, asking the night to shelter them from the big man and his gun. It is just all part of their struggle, their struggle to survive. For, although they are nobody to most, they are someone to themselves. They have nowhere to turn . . .
Soon exhaustion takes it toll. Simon lays his little body on the cold cemented pavement and promptly begins to dream. In his dreams he escapes to another world, a different reality where he no longer wanders lonely in the streets. He dreams of a hot homemade meal he shares with loving parents. They keep him safe and make him feel complete. A mother and a father who care! What would it be like to have them in his life? What would his life be like if he had people who care about him?
In the streets of Bogot? a small child has died tonight. His friends called him Simon. While he was dreaming of loving parents and a safe home, the big man came. Hidden by the dark and with no hesitation, he took this little boy's life with the cold metallic sound of his merciless firing gun. He threw the boy's body into the nearest dumpster. Thus, reflecting how most people in his society perceive the life of little boys like him to be worth. He dreams no more. He no longer seeks that loving, caring hand reaching out for him; the only hope he had for a fair chance in life.
As we go to sleep tonight, another child will lie down on that same spot other homeless children before him had until they ended up with a bullet in their heart. This child will also dream the same old dreams they all shared. He will shelter that same hope; trying to forget his life's daily nightmare.
In the streets of Bogot?, a child will silently cry himself to sleep tonight wishing that people like you and me could bring hope into his life.
Although most homeless children worldwide do not suffer the same fate, they too have to face many dangers trying to survive in the streets. You can make the difference in a homeless child's life now, especially Tsunami orphans in Asia, by making him/her a "someone" in your life. Get in touch with your local community action centers, the red cross or, homeless shelters and "adopt" a child, officially or figuratively. Don't just give money! Get involved in that child's life, mentor him or her, let the child know through your loving care and concern that he or she is a "somebody" to many. Don't just "remember" these children for the holidays; they need our tender-loving care year around. No child in the world should be all alone to face life. Children are our world's greatest treasure and hope.
*Simon is a factual-based fictional child inspired by a 1991 World Vision documentary about the fate of homeless children in Bogota, Colombia, at the time. The children's plight deeply moved me and led me to write this piece I now share with you.
Copyright 1991 - 2005 Barbara Hidalgo aka SoulfulWriter. All rights reserved.
Barbara is an essayist, poet, editor and publisher with a background in broadcast journalism. She is dedicated to writing thought-provoking pieces and assisting new authors with their craft. Visit Soulful Writers' Publications for more of hers and other authors' work under "Connections."