The Kindness of Strangers: helping one family take the ride of their lives
How One Family Went From Living on a Bus - To Riding One Home
by Steven Tilley, Associate Director of HUGCLT
I met him a few months ago. He looked 14 but I found out that he just turned 19. At 17 years of age, with a heart full of hope and dreams of helping his family, he came by himself to this country seeking employment. No family… no friends here. From the beginning he has been lied to and taking advantage of. He worked for months on a construction site waiting for the promises of payment but it never came. Because of his age and size, the men’s shelter was a place of torment for him. Now he sleeps outside with a makeshift knife made of a shard of glass tucked under his blanket every night. When I asked what he needed, he said he misses his mother and wanted to go back home. After months of working on getting him a passport, we finally have it! I told him today that we were now working on getting him a one way ticket and that he should be home in a week or so. He threw his head in my chest and said “gracias, gracias, gracias”! I haven’t told him yet, but we decided that we would give a little money to go to Walmart and fill his suitcase with gifts for his family back home.
I tell you this story because on my way back to the office, I had a love burst for all of you that have partnered with us to help make this world a little more beautiful. I took a picture of his bookbag today because he was telling me that as he slept last night, rats ate through it. Tonight he will sleep better knowing that he gets to go home soon.
Every word of encouragement, every monetary gift and every donation makes it possible for us to do the work that Bethany and I so passionately love to do. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! We love and appreciate all of you.
*2 WEEKS LATER*
After many many days of planning and trying to make things happen, “A” is finally back home. From the day I met him on the streets, I knew that our paths were brought together for a reason. Every person that steps into your life has something to help you learn and grow. With good reason, “A” was scared and closed off in the beginning. Each conversation involved passing my iPhone back and forth using Google Translate. Over time the conversations became more in-depth and I could feel the walls coming down around his heart. A few days before he was to leave, I met with him to go over all the details and instructions. When we went to say our goodbyes, he lunged towards me to hug with such force that I had to step back with my foot for balance. A few hours later,I received a WhatsApp message from him. I copied it and pasted it in Google Translate to read it. This was his message…
“how are you, my father, thank you very much for feeling that love in your heart as a son. Never in my life had my father given me a hug, and I carry it in my thoughts and in my heart for him”
We have a choice to make with each day and every person that we encounter. Some are harder than others but how we respond to them can literally change someone’s day… someone's life. I ask that you say a blessing over “A”. The difficulties in his country is why he came here to begin with. I also ask that you speak a blessing over my amazing friend Carolina Valder for her beautiful heart of compassion in helping “A” to go back home. Carolina works at Camino and they help empower the community in so many ways. I will provide a link below and I will also provide a link in the comments to the original post about “A”. Thank you to everyone who helped “A” along his journey. You make the world a more beautiful place. Love always wins.