Monday, April 03, 2006
Our Thailand team watched a good movie at our last meeting called “Born into Brothels”. It follows a photographer, Zana Briski, into the red light district of Calcutta. She became friends with the women that prostitute themselves there and especially their children. Naturally, she moves from photographer to social worker as she is touched by the lives of these children. She tries to help them get into school, gives them cameras and photography lessons herself and ends up being a catalyst for change in a few of them.
Haughty western wisdom would find fault in this woman’s desire to help these children as best as she can saying something like “well that’s these children’s life and we shouldn’t interfere.” The movie is a great human story though as you see her just have to try something...anything.
The pictures of these children reminded me of pictures I took this past friday down at our 9th Street motels. There has been an unusually high influx of children into this “neighborhood”. Children running around unattended, dirty, ignored and so hungry for healthy attention.
We’ve dreamed a lot about what we could do if one of these motels was ours. How we could use it for transitional housing and programs for the kids. A few weeks ago, we felt a challenge to not wait until it was “ours” but to just act like it’s ours now.
A couple of weeks ago, Jimmy loaded a lawn mower in the van, Mary and Leah bought some sidewalk chalk and bubbles at the dollar store, we took what food we had and spent the afternoon acting like the Shiva motel was ours. The minute we pulled up, a couple of the girls ran toward us waving new Bibles in the air asking us to have a Bible study with them. With the smell of fresh mowed grass in the sunny air, we played, read the Bible and laughed together.
This last week, the owner of the motel gave us permission to plant a community garden in the back of his motel. We also got to take a family of 7 out for a birthday dinner at Chuck E. Cheese. And we have heaps of vision for the future.
Back to the film, one thing that came to me about Ms. Briski is that she wasn’t a missionary, social worker or anything of the sort. She was just there. She noticed and acted. She did not give up, she did not talk herself out of it, she just did something because she was there. Those simple things can go a really long way.