Now the concept of being alone was always uncomfortable for me when I was young. Everyone wants to have lots of friends, so that they don’t have to experience those all alone times. Even the movies tell us we don’t want to be “Home Alone” or we should have at least one friend like “Tanto” if we are the “The Lone Ranger”. But what would it be like to be Custard on his last stand, or be the last of the Mohicans? What if you were on the “Last Crusade” or “the Last Man Standing”? How would you feel?
So in June when the last of my immediate family (besides those under 8 years old) left Ethiopia, the feelings of being alone crept over me. Living halfway around the world from everyone that I had grown up with had been doable, because I had always had one of my family still with me, but now it was just me (and 3 babies, and 2 youngsters). I shouldn’t complain, since one of our closest friends is visiting now, but it still runs through my mind that she will need to leave soon, too.
My mind has been selfishly centering on myself, pity being my dearest friend. Then God in His infinite wisdom shifted my emphasis off of me and onto a little street boy named Galata who was visiting my home. Now HE knew loneliness. His father had died a few years back and this year is mother followed. Distant relatives arrived bringing hope of family, but only sold the house and left him destitute. Luckily, one of his parents’ servants took him into their home, but soon could not afford his daily expenses. So at six years old, he was living on the streets of Gimbie.
His days were filled with begging for food, and dodging the bullies, who would steal what little he had to eat. He was used to middle class living, and now he was below poverty level. His clothes were so tattered, they were basically non-existent, and since baths were difficult to obtain, the smell from his body was atrocious. He watched the older boys playing foosball and table tennis, gambling away their precious coins. He just followed the other homeless kids, trying to “learn the ropes” of the street. The goats and sheep that wandered the road had happier days than he, romping and butting heads in the traffic.
Hearing that the Catholic Women’s Center had a feeding program, he couldn’t help but to try to find a stable source for his meals. Since his situation made him eligible for help, he was accepted into the program immediately. To have lunch guaranteed everyday was wonderful. His eyes darkened with circles brightened by the nutrition. His luck only got better as the people in charge of the program invited him to join a few of the poorest kids who were living in a modest three bedroom mud home out of town. These kids enjoyed all three meals a day, had their laundry washed, and slept on a mattress with a blanket. He was ecstatic. Had he died and gone to heaven??
He no longer felt lonely, sharing this home with six other street boys, two unwed mothers, and their two babies. Everyday after school he was invited to play with my children. It was so much fun to watch him just being a kid again. Then last week he was informed that an adoption agency felt that he and another four-year-old street boy were adoptable. To have a real family again seemed too good to be true. He could barely believe thE news. God had not forgotten him. Some of the other boys had been homeless all of their lives, and he was lucky to get a home. It was unreal!
So on Sunday, he took a shower, dressed in new clothes and got a motorcycle ride to the orphanage, which would be his temporary home until his papers cleared for adoption. To belong, to have family, to be loved…could this really be happening to him? A street boy? God must be good, He must care, He must be noticing.
So as I sit here feeling lonely, I remember his story. His loneliness will soon be resolved when a family is found for him. And in time, mine too will be healed when I am reunited with my family members. In Genesis, God said that man was not made to live alone, and I think that statement is true for me, and a little street boy named Galata.