I really did not expect the documentary Children Underground to tug at my heart the way it did. As a documentary about street children I expected it to be sad, but after seeing the very terrible conditions these street children were living in and knowing that they were easy targets for human trafficking and sexual exploitation I was beyond sad…i was angry, but most of all I was reminded about a personal encounter I previously had with a “street child.”
About a year ago, for the first time in my life, I had an interaction with a street child. I remember not being able to eat or sleep for days after meeting her because she was constantly on my mind. She was 15 years old at the time and she was train-hoping with two other guys she met on the streets and happened to be in my city for a few days when I met her. She had been living in the streets for about 2 years because her mom was very abusive and bi-polar and made her sleep with older guys for money. When she turned 13 she decided to run away from that life, and had been living on the streets ever since, but to me she was the most beautiful and most happy girl I had seen in a long time. She had the biggest dreams for her life, she shared with me her love for planting things and how she wanted to own a big farm one day and plant healthy, organic food. She shared that with me while taking a bite from a two day old cold McDonalds hamburger, telling me that she knew how unhealthy that was for her, but so grateful to the worker from McDonalds who gave her so much food two days earlier. I spent three special hours talking to her and the two guys she was with, but the most special part of the day was praying with her and talking to her about the LORD. After our prayer time, I went in to give her a hug and she refused to hug me because she said she had not showered in two weeks and was not smelling pleasant, but after insisting she finally hugged me really tight, and with tears streaming down both of our faces, I spoke words from scripture over her and told her she was loved, special, and a daughter of the King. It was such an eye opening experience for me and as I watched this documentary, this experience kept playing back in my head and I thought about what possible solutions to the fate of street children could be.
The documentary suggested that putting these street children back home with their families or putting them in shelters would help eliminate the problem, and while I think that is a good solution, I also think that providing other loving homes to these children is a good way to keep them out of the streets. While no family life is perfect, most of the children that choose to be in the streets do so because they have had very bad home experiences, and sending them back to these homes with their scars is almost like giving them a death sentence. I would recommend that a solution is for Christians to take care of the street children in whatever community they are living in, and show them what a healthy family looks like because I know that unconditional love can change people.
On that note, I would like to highlight a ministry that does a good job of getting Christians in a community involved in the fate of the children in their community. Lifesong for Orphans has a program in Ukraine called Indigenous Adoptions which seeks to encourage the body of Christ in Ukraine to adopt locally. Their premise is that while it would cost an American family $25,000 to adopt a child from Ukraine, it only cost $500 for a Ukraine family to adopt a child, so they encourage churches and families in America to support Ukraine families that are seeking to adopt.
I think this is a great strategy in getting local Christians to serve the people within their communities who need help, and also letting them enjoy the benefits of opening up their homes to orphans. For more information on how to support this ministry contact Rich Metcalfe – email@example.com.
By Salem Afangideh
Salem Afangideh is a second year law student at the Jones School of Law. A native of Nigeria, Africa who is currently interning with The Adoption Law Firm and Personhood, Alabama. You can find her blog about her law school experiences at lawschoolstruggles.blogspot.com.