One of the challenges on the Plateau is hitting the in-your-face, daily survival threats AND the more complex, inisidiously developing social problems at the same time. Yet, you MUST.
"Alright, boys, I promised you a game of marbles," said Manis to the little boys sitting in the front row in Chapel on Sunday morning. "Bring some friends, and meet me under the tree outside my gate at 6:00 this evening."
By the time 6:00 arrived, some of the boys had already been sitting on the wall waiting for an hour! Others came running as the time drew near so that they wouldn't be late.
From his years of experience---especially from when Lemuel was in Port-au-Prince---Manis knows that there are special ways to capture the attention and gain influence in the life of a child. You have to meet them on their level---within their world, so to speak---or else they are not really going to engage with what you are saying.
One of the challenges on the Plateau is hitting the in-your-face, daily survival threats AND the more complex, inisidiously developing social problems at the same time. Yet, you MUST. What good does it do to have water, to have infrastructure, to have a good school, if the breakdown in the family and the onslaught of uncontrollable technology (see notes below) leave vulnerable children with essentially no mature parental guidance to be raised instead by a society that teaches them lies? What kind of a society will you have in the future? (I think we can form some ideas based on results we are already beginning to see.)
So, despite an already overflowing plate, Manis decided to take action and begin a simple initiative for the little boys...a place where they can come for an hour or two and have some real, kid-oriented fun (a rare treat in this context) and receive training in Truth and principles from God's Word that can shape their perspective and literally change the course of their life.
Let me break down how that looked concretely for their very first, impromptu meeting:
A game of marbles (a great cultural favorite here!)...
Training in at least three principles/truths...
1) The older should protect and help the younger
2) Respect your elders by properly greeting them (a big deal in Haiti)
3) Be on time
PS For those of you who may be wondering, the plan is for this Sunday afternoon initiative to work in concert with the "Boys' Fòmasyon," which we have also talked about before. That program had to function on a much smaller scale this year due to many factors, but Williamso plans to get it up and running again sometime soon.
A personal reflection from the blogger (Krischelle): It was so fun to hang out and watch these boys. I can guarantee you, they were thrilled. Mèt Manis himself had asked them to play marbles! They were having sanctioned fun with all their friends! They were being invited back to fly their handmade kites and bring their toy trucks made out of old motor oil bottles! Whaaaaaaat?! :)
Manis made them laugh. Manis made them serious. Manis exhorted them to disciplined, decent behavior. It was good.
A note about the breakdown of the family:
This is definitely a subject far outside the scope of this blog post. However, suffice it to say that the family structure on the Plateau in general suffers from a great deal of brokenness, including children out of wedlock, father absenteeism, and exhausted, short-fused parents who themselves were raised in less-than-ideal societal and family contexts and who are wholly engaged in simply ensuring the physical survival of their family.
A note about technology: With all its advantages, one of the major societal challenges we are facing here is technology and its uncontrollable nature, especially with smart phones that can connect easily to the internet. It has opened up worlds of inappropriate and downright damaging material to youth and kids who have absolutely no supervision. In fact, even many parents (unaccustomed to such things themselves) are unable to distinguish between what is appropriate and what is not. We can only imagine the potential social disaster this may produce in the future as disgusting, immoral behaviors are displayed as the norm (and even the desireable!) and as misguided, deceptive, clamorous, and evil voices become the instructors of these future adults. If we don't stand up to counter these messages with God's Truth and Kingdom principles, these kids will have NO OTHER VOICE to guide them.