Yesterday I was enjoying a typical lunch with some of Children’s Home Ethiopia’s beneficiaries of injera (Ethiopia’s cultural bread) and shoro watt (chickpea stew) at CHE’s Drop-In Center. As I sat there trying to converse with the kids in Amharic about school and life, I noticed a boy at the door. The boy wanted lunch so a staff member invited him in and gave him a plate. Henok was his name, and he plopped himself down and proceeded to cram the food into his mouth as if he was afraid it was going to be taken from him if he didn’t act fast.
Henok is a handsome boy of about 14 years, with a crooked smile that can easily be mistaken as a smirk. I watched him for a while and noticed that his eyes were bloodshot and glazed over. We locked eyes for a moment at which time I knew something wasn’t quite right. There didn’t seem to be any emotion, any thought, or any consciousness in his stare. It was like I was looking into the eyes of a dead person. I looked at his coat sleeve to see if my suspicions were correct, and was not surprised to see it bulging near the cuff.
In his sleeve was a plastic bottle that contained his cure to the many pains (hunger, neglect, cold, etc…) in his street life – SHOE GLUE. An occasional swig of those fumes simply make life a bit more bearable for Henok. After lunch he staggered outside to play foosball with some of the other kids. A staff member pulled him aside and asked him to give her the bottle of glue while he was at the Drop-In Center (one rule is no drugs at the Center) and she would return it before he left. Henok laughed and then I watched him wobble down the driveway and out of the compound with the bottle of glue never leaving his sleeve. We prayed today that he would come back soon.
While on the streets children, like Henok, are easily lured to things that will dull the hunger and other pains associated with street life. Smoking, drinking, drug use, and even gas or glue inhalation are some of the coping mechanisms children begin to employ. Such things produce momentary comfort, but can severely impair their capacity to mature into healthy adults.
The realities of these forsaken children’s lives are devastating and overwhelming until you embrace the fact that there is a Savior for them and it’s not you or me. My hope tonight is that Henok will know Jesus as his Savior and will no longer need the glue to dull his pains.
Pray for Henok.