There's this kid named Kenneth who I know from Nueva Esperanza. He escaped in October and after worrying about him for a few weeks, my friend Yann happened to bump into on a bus and we've been able to keep in touch ever since. He has a fairly random situation in that he's living with a family that took him in without knowing him at all and he works with the father in the house, driving a little horse and buggy type thing around gathering scraps of metal that they later sell. It's not ideal. He's 13 and in the 2nd grade and not currently going to school. And when he gets sick he's too embarrassed to tell them about it or impose on them by asking for help. But he's not living on the street and he's not using drugs. And it's kind of sad that from other situations I've seen kids in, that means he's doing pretty darn good. But every time I go back, I call the guy he's living with and arrange a time for me to pick Kenneth up for lunch.
Our most recent lunch outing.
This trip was no different and on my first Thursday in Honduras we had plans for lunch at Pizza Hut. We ate and chatted. But for some reason that day, I was really, really tired. And it's hard to understand another language when you're tired. And he doesn't exactly enunciate, which just added to my difficulties. I got to the point where I was just nodding and pretending to understand, telling myself I only had to do it for another 20 minutes or so and then I could take him back home. Out of the blue he suggested that we go to downtown San Pedro and hang out at the square. Now, I had been counting down the minutes for a while and I'm really good at not doing something that I don't want to do, but I sternly told myself that I only get to see him once every 2 months and if the kid wants to hang out at the park, then that's the least I can do for him. So I agreed.
And man am I thankful I did. About 2 blocks from the park I noticed a kid walking down the street with a familiar gait. I did a double take and realized it was Victor. Victor is a kid who has lived in Proniño (40 minutes away by car) for about 4 years. I hadn't been in Proniño for a few days so I had no idea he had run away. I swung my car into a parking spot and quickly got out. I said his name, told him I had no idea he had run away and immediately sat down on the curb to let him know I wasn't planning on physically grabbing him and forcing him back to Proniño. I asked him some questions about why he left, when he left, where he's been and if he's hungry. Yes. So we headed to Pollo Campero. I called Kevin to try to get more info on why he ran and he asked me to pass the phone to Victor. Kevin asked when he was coming back to the foundation (Never). Kevin asked again and he said "I'll probably come back with Jenny." Phew.
Kenneth and Victor on my way back to Progreso
But the thing that gets me and what I just can't shake is how random and coincidental this was. I really, really didn't want to go downtown. But if I hadn't gone, Victor would probably still be on the street. Makes me shiver to think about. Victor is NOT a street smart kid. I'm so, so thankful I stumbled upon him.
A week after he ran away, Victor's back in the foundation and returning to school.
In the 3 trips I've taken to Honduras this year I've 'stumbled upon' 3 kids. I don't know. Maybe it's because it's a 'small' country. Maybe it's because there are so many out there on the street that I'm bound to find a few. But it feels like more than that. I'm so thankful Victor's safe. And I'm so thankful that I'm able to be used in this way.