I met Sammy a few weeks ago during our weekly Saturday program (we have breakfast with the children, then go to a public park to play soccer, have a Bible study and lunch). Sammy was a small boy of 13, always wearing a beanie. On Sunday, I went down to their “base” (the stack of boxes they sleep on) to help clean a wound another child had shown me the day before. I ended up taking chai with maybe 15 of the boys, and playing around, I took off Sammy’s hat.
I was shocked to find a huge open wound on his head, stretching maybe six inches across. He covered his head, trying to hide it from the other boys. After breakfast, I took him back to our flat, where he was able to clean up a bit, and take some breakfast. Eunice and I took him to a nearby hospital where they had to cut much of his skin to remove the stitches, and the infection. We took turns holding his hand as he writhed with pain as they cleaned the wound. But he never screamed out, never complained. The doctor said that the first surgery (stitches) was done very poorly. (It’s not uncommon for doctors here to refuse to treat street children, because they are dirty and smell bad. The first doctor never even told him he needed to return to the hospital to remove the stitches.) So the doctor told us after a few days of antibiotics and cleaning the wound, he would need stitches again.
We found out that he is an only child, never knew his father and his mother passed in 2005. For some years he stayed with some aunts, but kept running away, and has been living on the streets since January this time around. We called his aunts, and they came over to our place, and explained to us that he keeps running away, but won’t give a reason. They have very little resources, but admitted that if he ever comes knocking at their door, they will make room for him. We decided that if he goes home, it needs to be his decision–we can’t force him. So Sunday night I walked back with him to his base, leaving him with the antibiotics he needed, and promising to meet him in the morning, to take him to the doctor to re-dress the wound. So for the last few days, I’ve met him every morning, and we’ve walked to the hospital where he has bravely endured a lot of pain.
Wednesday, as we left the base, he walked together with his best friend, Babu. With his arm slung over Sammy’s shoulder, he told me, “I’m coming, you know he’s like my brother.” So we walked together to the hospital, where Sammy nervously flicked Babu’s ear, fidgeting as he awaited surgery.
Finally, he went into surgery. They put him under partial anesthesia, and the operation lasted a couple hours. When he came out, he was shivering. He was covered with blankets and left to sleep for a few hours. When I came back in, he was still very drowsy. As I sat on his bed, holding his hand the doctor came in to explain the results of the HIV test he had been given right before surgery.
Sammy is HIV positive. He’s doing ok, but needs to begin treatment immediately, before his condition worsens. The drugs he needs are free from the government–but the government won’t give them to children living in the streets. He needs to find somewhere to live. As we left the hospital, he was still very drowsy and unable to walk.
So I held his shoulders as he stumbled out of the hospital. He wasn’t able to speak, hardly able to walk. So we got in a cab and headed to my flat nearby. I was on the verge of tears as everyone stopped to stare at him. He was in a miserable state. I managed to help him up the four flights of stairs, get him a pillow and blanket before I walked into my room, closed the door, and cried. I cried for Sammy, for what might have happened to him had we not met him, and what might still happen. I cried for the five street boys I could see from my window, who live on my street. and I cried for the 70,000 who are living in the streets of this city even now. We need the Lord so badly–we need a miracle.
So please pray for Sammy even now. Pray for his immediate needs–healing of his wound, his safety on the streets.
Pray that he makes the difficult decision to go home, or to tell us his reason for leaving.
And pray that his entire life is transformed by the love of Christ. That whatever pain, hurt and evil he has encountered in his short life can be healed and replaced with his Savior’s love–and that in the arms of Jesus he can find complete rest, complete joy, complete love and acceptance and complete healing.
Sammy went back to the streets Thursday morning. As we walked back to Riverside, he told me he was planning on going home. I prayed with him, and said goodbye. Friday morning, before I was even out of bed, I received a phone call. Sammy called to tell us that he was at his grandfather’s house, and was safe.
I haven’t been able to get in touch with him since then, so pray that he is able to stay with his grandfather, and also that he continues to get the medical treatment he needs.