Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crack, sex, and high school drop out.

“We have a son who is 18 years old and ready to marry. We can marry and take her to Suriname to live with us. She can go to Christian church and live with us while she matures to serve as a house wife. Our son will not touch her until she is 18. We will take good care of her.” said the Surinamese couple to the wide eyed and tired family of hopeless aunts, uncles. and father.

They are discussing the future of a 14 year old girl who does not listen to anyone. She smokes crack, have sex, and is a high school out since December 2010. What, you say? Of course, right here in quiet old #78 Village back yard. The first street of #78 Village Rampoor Road is infested with a group of 14-17 year olds who are all crack users and hang out like a bunch of little wanna be thugs. The little girl’s cousin is her pimp. He gets crack from a “friend” who in turn crawls into his bedroom window to have sex with the 14 year old girl, his cousin. Outrageous you say, sure, it gets better. There is a 17 year old girl in the gang who collects money from the boys to have sex with the younger girls. A little “madam” at the tender age of 17. Not your little old Guyana. Wake up open your eyes and ears, look and listen. It is happening right now. There is little or no parental support for anyone it seems.

Most of what I hear from some of the parents is, “A b a tired talking to dem pickne dis, dem hard ears, dem na listen to no body.” The feeling of despair, hopelessness, of helplessness, of a total break down of parental values and discipline all play a role in this dysfunctional society. Most parents of these kids don’t want to or are too tired to deal with the issues of this teenager pack. The parents rather hide their kids when the truancy officers come knocking because they feel the kids will continue to do the same things.They are also afraid of drug users. There is also the perception that another person’s child is not one’s business and they should just stay out. The notion of it takes a village to raise a child definitely does not apply here.

Most of the teenager pack’s parents are uneducated and work menial jobs to get by. They have no faith in the system nor do anything to get out of their current situation. I hear the words, “ we are poor people, what can we do” a lot. It is very hard to convince these people that there is a way to get help and there are organizations and people who are willing to extend a hand. A very casual inquiry at Skeldon High School lead to a whole world of individuals ready and willing to help. Teachers, consulars, an actual social worker (University of Guyana graduate) are all in place ready to help.

With limited resources and just the goodwill of helping a child to stay on a straight path these teachers and social workers try tirelessly to contain a problem that is fastly spinning out of control. The drug epidemic is quickly engulfing this once innocent society into a 15 year old monster. What will happen in a couple of years when these kids grow up a little? It will be intolerable to be on any street corner or walk on any streets. There is little or no help from parents who are too illiterate to bother about helping their kids get off drugs. As far as they are concerned the kids are bad and there is nothing to be done about it. This is the brick wall the social workers run into everyday. When social workers take money out or their own pockets to buy shoes for a kid who can not afford it, that is going beyond the call of duty. They is only so much a social worker can do. They cannot parent every child. That is the parents’ role. But this society has always been okay with someone else raising their child.

It has always been a common practice here for parents to give a child to their relative or close friend or some to complete strangers to parent. When my father passed I had many offers to “mine” (raise) me. My grandfather and grandmother was very vocal and stayed strong that I was not up for adoption, or raising or any such crazy thing. They made sure everyone knew that I had a home, their home. Had they allowed someone else to “mine” me who knows what I would have become. Not that I have not had my share of troubles, god knows I had, but I am still not so bad. Right?

After a three hour session with the social workers the little 14 year old was allowed back in the school with stipulations and check points. She has to check in 3 times a week with a social worker and every evening with another teacher at the teacher’s home to do homework. There is a support system in place at her home to assist with absenteeism. Everyone around this child were brought in and made absolutely clear what were the consequences if this little girl were to not to follow the guidelines laid out for her .  If she is absent 1 day for no real reasons the social worker will be forced to report to the Ministry Of Education who will inform the local authority to commit her to a Correctional School for Girls. She is to stay away from her pimp and the young drug pusher and avoid her little pack at all cost.

The social worker made a list of things for little crack girl to have so she can have a smooth transition back into school. All items with the exception of 2 are accounted for. She starts school in the morning.