This morning one of the boys who I help with reading came crying, and holding his left eye. It was obvious someone had hit him, and though the teacher tried to find out what had happened, he didn’t say anything.
Since he ended up being my only student (the other wasn’t there today) I decided to turn it into a game. I told the boy he didn’t have to tell me who did it, but I would try to guess who it was.
After learning it happened at home but his mom or dad didn’t do it, I asked if it was his aunt or uncle. He immediately told me that his uncle had hit him for “disobeying.” “does he hit you a lot?” I asked and he sadly nodded his head.
I talked to the schools librarian afterwards since our classes are in the library, but I personally don’t feel this is a sign of physical abuse from the Uncle. Instead it is a common way of disciplining children. And a glimpse into the home-life some of them experience.
Sadly I’ve learned by experience many families in Barrouallie don’t offer the stability and Biblical instruction a child needs. Because a lot of them are single parents who work or take care of the younger children (usually the mom) children are left to take care of themselves. Even worse, they don’t have the role model of a Godly mother, father, or close family member would offer.
It is heartbreaking to see children struggle without a healthy home-life, but at the same time there’s little I can do to change that. However God occasionally gives me opportunities to be what I like to call a “spiritual parent.”
Spiritual parenting means taking on the role of a parent for a short amount of time carrying out actions such as:
- Comforting a child who is hurting
- Encouraging a child who has low self-esteem
- Clearly teaching right from wrong
- Punishing poor behavior, while at the same time rewarding good behavior
- and giving undivided attention
Of course this doesn’t mean I’m replacing their parents, but with the Lords help can give the child some much needed direction, as well as loving attention.
By the time we were done with our reading class all the tears were gone, and he was incredibly excited to show the librarian his hard work, along with not one but TWO super-hero stickers!
I honestly have no idea what this boys home life is like, and realize super-hero stickers couldn’t take the place of loving parents. However I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to remind a little boy who came to school in tears that he was genuinely loved.