Yesterday I got up worried that no matter how hard I work, I can't make a difference in the world. To be more specific, I have been mentoring two children who lost their mom last summer. There has never been a mention of a dad but even when their mom was living, she was addicted to drugs and alcohol. I will never know the half of what these two kids experienced in their home environment but you can imagine. Their older brother (age 24) is now their legal guardian. While their mom was living the family received food stamps but those were terminated when she died. The mother never worked so there is no social security so these kids depend on charity from a few very poor family members and a few school officials. One of the reasons I get discouraged is that no matter what I do with the kids, deep inside I feel that I can't undo the years of their painful growing up nor can I remove them from extreme poverty and other negative elements in their environment.
In a previous post you may have read about some of the things we do with the kids but we have kicked off a new series of Saturdays called GirlTime. These are days designed to give the 11 year old some female time since she doesn't have a mom at a critical time in development. The first session was about hair care. My girlfriend Claristine volunteered to teach the session while I served as the assistant. It was a three hour session. This child's hair has been permed and put in tight braids that have damaged hair to a point that it was sad to see. Claristine is an expert in working with African American hair and she went right to work. Meanwhile I did the things I do best, baking cookies, popping popcorn and selecting the best movie for the occassion. The movie we watched was Enchanted. At the end of the day when the movie ended and the hair was finished, this little girl turned and said "today I got to be a princess."
I almost cried. We all take so many things for granted - homemade cookies, clean hair and clean clothes - no big deal - but for some, these small things are big struggles. My Jewish girlfriend has been helping a struggling family for four years. She too has been discouraged and even ridiculed by some in her social circles but she has inspired me with a Jewish teaching Tikkun Olam, meaning repair the world. Maybe we can't repair the entire world but have to start somewhere. Just knowing that one little girl went home feeling like a princess made me feel like yesterday was a day well spent.