Thursday, December 3, 2009
The past few weekends have just been an eye-opener for me... many events left me disturbed...
yesterday in church i was sitting right at the back. a young girl that i used to teach in Sunday school about 2 years ago walked in holding a baby and i thought to myself "she has probably come to church with her sibling and her mom is gonna follow or the mom is already here". she sat right in front of me and as the service proceeded, i took no notice of her. the baby started crying and that brought my attention back to her. i thought she was gonna stand up and take the baby to her mom. but to my surprise,she started breast-feeding the baby... SHE WAS THE MOTHER TO THE INFANT and yet she herself was not more than 17!
so i began to look around and i realised that there were many more just like her... MANY... i looked at myself, and i was holding my friend's baby.. the mother is 21, the infant is one and a half and the father is nowhere to be found.. he has a wife and three children somewhere else.
such situations have become so normal, and by not speaking out and addressing them in church, are we saying that they are okay?
Why is it that the church cannot speak on issues of sexuality freely? are these issues too embarrassing to discuss with the youth? the community where my church is situated is one of the worst high density suburbs in ZIMBABWE... so many things happen there and the only place where young people can get proper guidance and counseling is at church, but the church is too afraid to address these issues!
Teenage pregnancies are on the rise and it's now almost normal to hear that someone less than 18 has a baby. recently in my church, two young girls died because of pregnancy issues. of these two, one of the stories made a Sunday local paper. this young girl was 16 and fell pregnant of a boy who was 17. because he was too young and afraid of responsibility, he forced her to have an abortion which resulted in her illness and eventual death. all the parties involved in the abortion issue were arrested and are being charged, but the damage has already been done. the other girl passed away not more than 8 days ago of a premature delivery complication and left behind her baby, born at 7 months fighting for her life.
What has happened to the world such that these issues have become acceptable? they have become everyday talk! when are we going to go back to the times when people got married, then had children? or is this a backward way of thinking? is this now the new "in-thing"? children having children? or am i the one that is backward? am i concerned and troubled over things that are absolutely normal?
then we have cases of young girls, minors to be exact who are being married off at young ages so that their families can get money and food.is this not a crime? i say it is! but who is going to report such forms of abuse when the family is receiving food? does that then mean that we are promoting crime, or let me say protecting criminals, or is it just a case of "survival of the fittest"?
but why is it that teenage pregnancies are on the rise? is it that children are now experimenting more than before? or are hormones actively playing up? but even though, where do children get their sex education? Media? or first hand experience? my church is in a community where families live in a single room: mother, father and their 5 children, all in one room. at times this one room is divided among two or more families as people are seeking cheaper accommodation and sources of income. it is therefore not surprising that while the children are asleep on the floor and mom and dad are on the bed, the children can clearly hear what's going on between mom and dad. so many parents assume that their children are asleep and they carry out their love-making activities in that same room! don't you think that these young ones could become curious? don't you think that they also would want to know what's going on or maybe even experience for themselves? is this then not where many problems are stemming? children know too much and they do not know what to do with all this knowledge and they do not have proper guidance in life. parents are too busy working to care for their children, and in our culture,some issues are not discussed!
Again, in these crowded homes, children are faced with issues of abuse. because they are poor and they need money for survival, many girls go into prostitution for money and some are abused for money. because of this, they say nothing. at times fathers abuse their own daughters and sons and mothers say nothing because they know that they will go to bed hungry. to them, they would rather have food at any cost than report this abuse against their children. young boys are sodomised and this becomes normal to them, they even go ahead to practice on other young boys!
i am a Sunday school teacher and deal with children aged between 3 and 14. recently, we had a Sunday school camp and two events left me really puzzled. one night, two 9 year old boys, who i will name Andy and Billy were caught walking around naked in the boys dorm. when asked what was going on, Andy said that Billy was trying to force him to do "silly things" that he did not want to do. when Billy was questioned he did not hesitate in answering, "this is what i do, but i said i was sorry and left him alone". is simple terms, Billy tried to sodomise Andy, but Andy refused. another night, in the girls dorm, something else happened. the girls reported the next morning that they were tired because they had slept at 4am. when one of them was asked why, she reported that some of them had been awake the whole night watching as others acted out what their mothers and fathers do at night in their beds. Basically,these girls, aged 9 to 14 were acting out love-making scenes! where do these children get all this information?
As an individual concerned about Billy and many liked him how do i address this situation in the church environment? girls are still being scolded for walking around with boys at 18. how then are they expected to learn about relationships? instead of the church creating a system where young people get to talk about real life issues and what really affects them, the church has created a situation where only the bible and "holy matters" are discussed at youth meetings. where then are young people supposed to get counseling and direction if at home they cannot talk about it and at church too? if these issues can't even be discussed, how then can i, as an individual concerned about children stand up and talk about sexuality, sodomy and the issues that i have seen that affect these children i deal with? do i just turn a blind eye and keep watching as more children are abuses silently? do i just watch, knowing that children lie awake and listen to what goes on at night? or do i go against the norm and speak out? do i tell the mothers in my church what's really going on? considering my culture, will they not think that i am too "forward"?
WHAT DO I DO??
the church needs to get to a point where we realise that we live in a world with temptations and challenges. we need to get to a point where we stop condemning the girl that's seen walking with a boy, and get to a point where we can help her sort through her emotions, give her the knowledge she needs to have in order to handle the situation correctly. we need to be able to discuss issues of abuse openly so that even young children know what is it and how to recognise it. many young people are naive and do not know the consequences of their actions and some do not even know that what is happening to them is abuse and not a "game"
how do i stand up as a single person and try to turn the church around? when will the church see through my eyes, or is it my duty to make them see things the way i do? when will we go back to the "innocent" world? will we ever? can i really make a difference in the lives of these children i see? how do i make a difference without removing them from their crowded, polluted environment? do i tell their mothers and fathers to be more careful? is it their fault they live the way they do? HOW DO I FIX THIS? i can't just leave Billy, i can't allow the person who has done this to him to just be... but what do i do? i can't allow children to be exposed to the kinds of situations they are exposed to. But what can i do?
WHAT? what can i do? i see so much but there's so little i can do. i don't have the perfect solution for i am only one small being, but the little that i can, i shall do for these children. but will that be enough to reduce the number of young people who are sexually active? will that be enough to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies? will that be enough to reduce the number of children that are abused in various ways?
i know i do not have the answers to all my questions. but i have one wish: i wish that the Church would step up and be an adequate mother and father to these children,t o give them the proper guidance that they need and equip them to be full, whole members of their societies.
i know i cannot make everything perfect for everyone but i will try my best to make life better for some. and for that which i cannot change, my heart continues to bleed.
Monday, November 23, 2009
How does one escape their thoughts? How does one escape what they feel deep within? How does one escape their emotions? What they feel in their heart?
Or maybe I should put it this way: How do I escape my thoughts? How do I escape what I feel deep within? How do I escape my emotions? What I feel in my heart? How do I leave my head? How do I leave my thoughts and escape to another place? What place? Where? How do I escape the things I cannot solve? How do I escape the tension in my head because of the things I cannot solve? How do I escape the headache that comes because of the tension in my head caused by the things I cannot solve?
HOW?? How do I leave me behind and be someone else? Where do I go to escape myself? Does such a place exist? A place free of all the tension around me… a place free of all the negativity around me… a place free of all the pressure around me… does such a place exist?
One musician once sung, “there is a place I call my own, where I can stand by the sea, and think of all the things I’ve known and dream that I might be free… like the bird above the trees, gliding gently on the breeze, I wish that all my life I’d be without a care and flying free. But life is not a distant sky, without a cloud, without rain! And I can never hope that I can travel on without pain… time goes swiftly on its way, all too soon we’ve lost today, I cannot wait for skies of blue, or dream so long that life is through. So life’s a song that I must sing, a gift of love I must share, and when I see the joy it brings, my spirits soar through the air… like that bird above the trees, gliding gently on the breeze, for now I know what I can be and now my heart is flying free…”
Is there really a place I can call my own? A place where I can be free? Gliding gently on the breeze? Can my life really be without a care and can I really fly free?? What about the people around me and the boundaries they set for me? What about the standards of the society? Cultural restrictions? Religious guidelines? Can I really be free to fly as I wish?
Another musician also said, “when the world seems far beyond me and I have no place to go, when my life seems cold and empty and I feel I’m all alone… then a song that I remember helps to ease my troubled mind, and I find the strength within me to reach out just one more time! For as long as I have music, as long as there’s a song for me to sing, I can find my way, I can see a brighter day, the music in my life will set my spirit free!! When my life seems cold and empty and I feel I want to cry, when the dreams I keep inside me seem to fade and almost die, then I call upon my music and it helps to dry my tears, and I know that I can make it, I’ll reach out just one more time! For as long as I have music, as long as there’s a song for me to sing, I can find my way, I can see a brighter day, the music in my life will set my spirit free, set it free!!!!”
Is music really that powerful? Can it take one to a whole new world after all there is a song for every occasion, a song for every emotion, a song for everyone out there… can words and a tune to those words be that powerful? Powerful enough to give one the strength to reach out just one more time? Powerful enough to make everything alright? To calm every storm and bring a brighter day? I certainly believe it can… music has the power to transport one to a world far far away… a word where everything is alright, a world where one is free... a dream world… a perfect world…
What do I do when the world I used to escape to no longer exists? What do I do when my coping mechanisms are no longer there? What do I do when those I used to lean on are gone? What do I do when the people who used to keep me sane are no longer readily available? What do I do when I feel as though I can’t burden the ones that are there with my baggage? What do I do when some don’t seem to care anymore? Maybe it’s because they never realized how important they were, I don’t know...or maybe I never mattered much... but that’s a story for another day… where do I escape to when all that used to help me escape this constant headache is no longer there? WHERE DO I GO?
But is escaping to another place the solution to the problem? What happens when reality strikes again? What happens when I can’t run from myself anymore? When I can’t run from my thoughts anymore? When I can’t run from my pressures anymore? What happens when the walls around me begin catching up and closing in on me? What then? Where to now? But is it bad to wish for an escape? Even if it is temporary? Is it too much to ask for? Is it too much to ask for a perfect world? A world where all things go my way? They say the things we experienced in the past make us who we are today and what we are experiencing today moulds who we will be tomorrow... but does it have to be so hard?
The Bible also say that Christ came that we might have an abundant life… Jesus says “come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest”… why then do we spend so much time carrying baggage around? Why can’t we just surrender it all to the Creator? Why can’t I just let it all go? Why do I spend so much time thinking? Trying to escape me and be somewhere else? Why do I have to face such situations? To make me a better person? To test the strength of my character??
We see so many people in the streets every day, but do we know what they are thinking? Do we know the challenges they are facing? Do we care? Probably not, because they are strangers... why should we care? We see our friends every day, or almost... we speak to them often... these are not strangers, but do we know what they are thinking? Do we know the challenges they are facing? Do we know how they really feel inside? DO WE CARE? Do we have the time and the energy to ask and know? Or are we busy dealing with our own conflicts? Our own walls closing in on us… is there really a perfect world? Do we live in a troubled world or are we the ones complicating simple things? Am I the one complicating my own life? Am I the reason my world is a world of confusion? Am I the reason I have this constant headache? Do I have the power to resolve the conflict within me? Do I have the answers to all my questions? Am I carrying a burden that is not mine?
I do not have the answer to these questions, or maybe I do have them and I just haven’t realized it... or maybe I like to complicate simple matters, but all I know is that right now I feel bound, enclosed within the confines of my own flesh, TRAPPED in my own body…
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Yesterday I found a letter in my room... a letter that was written a long time ago and it brought back memories...
I had a friend a long time ago... a really close friend. If I was not at home, I was out and about with him... we were never apart... if you looked for me, you'd find him, if you looked for him, you'd find me... we did many things together and my whole neighborhood has memories of him and I...
We were close, really close, but as usual, friends have arguments... some get resolved and some are just too deep... this is what happened between us... this one argument was just too deep... I drifted away, cut ties and all contact...
Months and months passed... he tried to talk to me, tried to get back things to the way they used to be, but I just wouldn't have it... I was too angry...
Months later I decided that it was time all this came to an end, it wasn't worth our friendship... so I tried to cal him, and his phone was unavailable... I tried their land line but it was never answered... I kept trying his cell phone for a whole week... Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. No answer...on Friday I received a call from one of his friends... "Hey Kay, did you hear what happened?" I knew nothing and actually went on to say I'd been trying to call him but he wasn't answering his phone, there was silence on the other end of the line... then he broke the news to me , "he drowned last Sunday, he was buried this last Wednesday.." I was shocked, too stunned to react... I could not believe my ears...
That night I did not sleep... I asked myself so many questions that no one else could answer... what were his last thoughts? What did he think about in his last moments? What were his thoughts about me in his last moments??
He really cared about me, I know he did... why did it take a long time for me to realise that our friendship was worth so much more? Why did it take so long for me to decide to contact him? Why did I only try to contact him after he was already dead? WHY?? But I had no answers to my questions... I will never get the answers to these questions... never ever... I will never see him and I will never get a chance to make things right. To get us back to where we used to be... to get our friendship to what it was. I will never see him never hear his voice, never laugh with him... NEVER... and never is long time...
I am sorry that things ended the way hey ended, I'm sorry that I did not get a chance to make things right... I'm sorry that I treated him the way I did... if only I had made an effort to reach out much earlier, if only I had tried... if only had allowed him to reach out when he had... if only.. But time has already come and gone... there is no going back. It has been over a year but many times when I’m walking around I keep hoping that I will see him I keep hoping that it was all a misunderstanding and he is still alive... I still have not gathered up the courage to go to their house and see for myself that he is no longer there... I still cannot accept that this is the way things ended... but why? Could it be that I feel guilty for the way things ended? Could it be that I regret not mending things when I had the chance?? Or could it be all of the above? I don't know...
But one thing I know for sure is that I will never have the chance to go back and make things right, I will never have the chance to see him again and talk this through, like civilised people... all I have left are the good memories and the regrets that are in my mind..
Life is too short; we never know when it will come to an end... who would have thought that at 17 his life would have come to an end? we never know when God will take his soul away... we cannot control life but we can control what we do with our time, we can control how we treat each other... we can! Though you're gone my dear friend, you have taught me to take each day, each relationship, each friendship seriously... everyday and every moment counts... we can never be too sure of what will happen tomorrow... you have taught me to part ways with people on a happy note every time.. You have taught me that valuable moments and valuable people are to be treasured at all times... you have taught me to treat my friendships with the greatest care, to resolve all arguments and make peace with all people t all times...
I will never forget you and 'sorry' will never be able to express how I feel when I think of you. No words will ever be able to describe the sorrow I felt when I heard of your passing... no words will ever be able to express the sorrow I felt when I remember the happy times we had and the many things we did together… the places we went hold memories, memories I will treasure forever!
Sorry will never be enough...
Rest in peace my kangaroo...
Rest in peace A.A.M.H
You will be missed forever...