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.