Rodrigo* seemed to go from one crisis to another. He had lived on the streets for a long time before coming to the project, and his own mother had plied him with alcohol, which had caused serious neurological problems. He was sent to me because he was unable to control his anger. He’d have fits of rage where he broke things in the home, and was disobedient to his foster mother. He walked in hanging his head, ready for a telling-off. I calmly reached for the green bag.
Little by little, as I began to tell him stories, he began to share his. He told me how, in the orphanage where he lived before coming to our project, the children had been tied to their beds while fire was held to their feet. He could not forget the screams of his friends, locked up in their rooms, and his feeling of powerlessness because there was nothing he could do to help them. When Rodrigo left, having told his story, he was very calm, and relieved. He asked me to pray for his behaviour to change.
Slowly but surely, it did. But one day I arrived at the project to find him being physically held down by four people. He seemed like an animal trying to escape captivity. I asked them to let him go, but as soon as he was let loose, he ran out to the street. I knew I had to deal with the situation, but I had no idea what might happen. As I searched for him, I begged God to keep him safe. I felt very discouraged that Pavement Project had not helped him enough, and that he was suffering so much again.
At last I spotted him, arms outstretched, hanging onto the bars of the gate of a house, as if he were glued in place. I went to him and hugged him. I noticed that there were welts on his arms and neck. He seemed to be having a rage attack. Gently, I began to speak to him, reminding him of the lost lamb in the story I had told him. I reminded him that Jesus would always go looking for him, and that no matter what he did, he would always be loved and cared for. I assured him that the horrible things he had endured need not happen ever again. Rodrigo let go of the bars, turned to me and hugged me, and cried for a long time.
The bond created in a counselling relationship is unique. Pavement Project is not a quick fix solution to a child’s problems, and where follow-up is needed, the trust that builds between worker and child means that they can receive ongoing support, and as many counselling sessions as are necessary.
“Through Pavement Project, they have discovered in Jesus a friend who is always available and willing to carry their heavy load.”
*Rodrigo’s name has been changed according to our SGM Lifewords‘ child protection policy