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Friday, February 16, 2007

What gets me boiling

I'm on this project doing a program audit for an NGO that works with underprivileged kids and orphans. Some might think that would encompass like all of Ghana's kids but alas, some are still much worse off than others.

My job is to go around with the education coordinator and driver in the NGO truck all around Ghana interviewing kids, teachers, principals.

Today we pulled into one spot and the driver turned off the engine. Sitting in the backseat, I noticed how one, two, three, more and more kids started appearing in the doorway in front of us. Not an unusual sight. These were all boys and all around 13-16 years old. Then I noticed it. The lock. The bars. They were all locked into one room. About 25 of them. They are so-called juvenile offenders awaiting their day in court. The cops are trying to track down their families so that they take responsibility. Sometimes the kids are intentionally leading them astray because they don't want to be rejoined with their families. After all, it's because of them that they are often on the streets.

I shudder when I see kids locked up. No matter the accusation - thievery most often - I cannot wrap my brain around what logic there is to take a young man and put him in a room with 24 of his peers and have them rot there. There is nothing to me that says there is a future here other than more of the same. The sight of them, like puppies at the pound, pushing their faces up against the bars is absolutely horrendous. I tremble as I write this.

Not long after, we have an errand to run and bring some files off the data stick to a woman who volunteers for the organization. We are driving in a pretty ritzy neighbourhood, large gated houses. We pass by the Ernst and Young offices - shiny, immaculate, beautiful. Across the road is the gate to where we're going, guarded by a paid guard. With the right OK, he opens the door. We drive through a picture of PleasantVille - manicured lawns, interlock driveways, big shiny 4x4s in the driveways. These are the residences for the foreign Ernst and Young staff. In the pool, yes pool, there are a bunch of boys about the same age as the ones in the cage. A white girl about the same age lounges on a chair bored. Everything pristine, air conditioned mansions.

Call me a lefty pinko bleeding heart idealist naive child. I don't care. There is no way these kids are living in a just world and there's no way there'll be peace when this inequality continues.

The starkness of it is more than painful.


jeffrey said...

Chris, you really care about the common people.

benjibopper said...

Thanks Jeffrey, but this one was actually Miia. She's got a huge heart.