Another very different day…
Today we started up with a morning recovery workout (because we were all sore from soccer yesterday). Then it was off to M2 children’s prison. M2 is similar to M1 in that all of the kids are ages 12-17. Most of the kids here have not committed a crime and are awaiting a court hearing. They aren’t supposed to be at M2 longer than about 6 months, but many of them do. The facility is home to 200+ kids (mostly boys) and it was designed to hold 45.
The day was different because these boys were more restricted in their freedoms. They had to earn the right to play soccer. We found ourselves involved in many more in depth conversations with young men about helping them get back on track. Many of these kids are very bright and speak good English. They expressed to us that they want to be “good men.” Meaning, they are well educated and have good jobs, but they need help getting to school when they get out. That is where 60 Feet comes in, assisting them as they transition out of the prison system.
These kids seemed a little bit more at odds with their faith and life in general. I met one young man who was there for the first day. He was obviously lost and looking to find his way. We didn’t have the kind of “fun” we have been having. Rather, as a collective group we seemed to be spending more time in one-on-one counseling sessions. I certainly did not feel prepared for this. I spent a great deal of time with one young man (ironically his name is Innocent) and my heart goes out to him. I did not have answers for him, so I put him in touch with the guys from 60 Feet and hopefully they can help to facilitate getting him back into school soon. I felt rather helpless at times, but took the time to listen to him, encourage him, and pray with him.
Our visit to M2 finished mid afternoon and we headed to Canaan’s Children’s Home in Jin-Ja. We were not prepared for what we would encounter. As the gates opened to the facility, several kids spotted us and the word traveled quickly. Before we could park the bus, we were surrounded by a ton of kids of all ages cheering and touching the glass, just waiting for us to get out. What a rush!!
We quickly exited the bus and the kids mauled us. We all grabbed as many of them as we could handle (within seconds I had 2 adorable kids – one on each arm). They were full of so much love, it was contagious and the feelings we all experienced were indescribable. They all spoke very good English and were very interested to learn about us. We spent the next 2+ hours playing and loving. Their desire for touch was amazing. Virtually every kid latched on to someone and literally didn’t let go (except when my 5 year old friends schooled me in soccer). They wanted so badly to be held, hugged, and touched. You can’t turn that down.
The night finished with some great food from the staff here, and off to bed (imagine 8 grown men sleeping on 4 inch mattresses in the same room under mosquito nets). It really is the ultimate Man Up road trip!