Monthly Archives: February 2013
Home is one of those things we take for granted.
A place to live.To sleep.To call our own.
Even if it’s a small apartment, or the basement, or a little room in someone’s house, it’s a place we know we can rest our heads for the night.
Family is another of those things we undervalue.
For those of us lucky to have a family, or a few close people we call family, we find security in that. THEY are our home. They are where we can relax, feel safe, find our place in this life. But what if the place you call home and the people you call “family” wasn’t any of these things…
Little Adjano, in our Bulgarian Program, has neither a real home or secure family…sure, he lives somewhere and has a bunch of people who share some DNA with him, but that’s all. When he was about 2 years old, Adjano’s mother disappeared. After that, his father signed over the parental care of Adjano to the boy’s great grandmother, then left to work abroad. He hasn’t been back to see his son since. That was 10 years ago. Adjano’s now 12.
Two years ago, Adjano’s great grandmother passed away without signing over his care to anyone else. Instead of social services moving him into the system, however, they left him with other members of his family. Ten others to be exact. Adjano’s grandparents, her two other sons, their wives, and his cousins all live under one roof. Of all these people, only the grandparents work and bring in money. Adjano is stuck under the “temporary” care of his aunt in the house. There’s constant noise and smells in the tight space with only two members out working. Adjano is so nervous all the time. He’s nervous he doesn’t belong. He’s nervous they’ll one day decide to kick him out. He has virtually no parents, no papers that identify who he belongs to, and no real home. Every week, when we serve sandwiches, Adjano asks for extras; and when we give out pajamas to the children in the program, he wants any additional sets. He takes these all home, gives them as an offering to the other guys in the household – hoping that it will keep them from stealing his; praying it will be enough to keep him in the family, at the house…to keep him from being displaced.
This story hit my heart hard.
There are times I’ve been displaced. I’ve lived off couches and out of my car – I’ve been the “new” person too many times to count and had cultural shock moving around. But, I have family I can always run to. And, no matter what, I’ve always had a little corner to call mine – be it a couch or a little room. Little Adjano does not. And, I’m so thankful he’s a part of our program. At least, when he comes to hear about Jesus, get a little education, do some crafts, and eat some good food, he knows he’s loved. He knows he belongs there – and that he’ll always get a hug. This is the part of the story that makes me smile. Even if Adjano is displaced in his own home, he has a place in Changing a Generation and in the arms of Jesus.
Written By: Krinda Joy, CDM Creative Arts Team
FEAR OF TAKEN
The Taken movie gathered a large audience when it first released in 2008.
The father’s unrelenting love for his daughter, the fact that he would stop at nothing for her rescue, captured viewers.
Now, there’s the second installment in the series. I understand why they made a sequel, but the thought makes me sick. I’m sick with the fact that reality turns entertainment so fast for me, for us, for the world. But, until I started working with Changing a Generation, I never realized just how REAL Taken is. Now that I hear stories constantly about the fear our children in Bulgaria experience over the possibility, or experience, of being taken, I just can’t watch it on the big screen. Not that the movies are “bad” at all, it’s just too real…
Fenya and her brother Anyan attend on of our programs in Bulgaria. Fenya is 16 and Anyan is 14. They live with their grandma because their father left them when they were very little; their mother lives in a different country so she can make money for the family. She calls everyday and sends cash – it’s the only way she can show her love from a distance. The siblings are lucky in this: they have family that loves them dearly. However, this doesn’t always protect them from others. Fenya’s grandmother expressed her distress and fear all last year about a boy that was hanging around her granddaughter. Most in the United States would just be afraid of a bad influence, or premature relations, but what the grandma feared was this boy taking Fenya. It happens often. So, she was constantly watching. When the boy stopped coming around, the grandma was relieved.
Last fall, volleyball season started up again for Fenya. Both she and her brother played on separate teams. Fenya was very talented. Her grandma came to a few practices and noticed that at them, there were many boys loitering around and watching. The grandma’s fear ignited again, knowing they could have been “scouting” for good candidates to take and either use or prostitute. So, Fenya’s grandma pulled her out of the program. Anyan still plays.
“Sometimes,” the grandma expressed, “I regret taking Fenya out of volleyball. She liked it.” At the same time, she’s doing everything she knows how to protect her granddaughter from being stolen, kidnapped, trafficked….taken.
What an awful reality to live with every day: that your beautiful, shiny-haired granddaughter could be taken from you at any moment. Yet, this is a part of the Bulgaria our children live with. There are so many stories of fear, of pain, of abandonment, and of hope or victory that we hear every week from the children in our program. Fenya’s story is just one. Through the next weeks, I want to give snapshots of their stories – to be a voice for those who cannot speak up for themselves. These stories keep us from forgetting that there’s more than just our lives to care for, but that the children of the world need a voice. And, we can be that voice.
Written By: Krinda Joy, CDM Creative Arts Team