Today, I want to write about another of the five organizations we worked with on our Creatives Trip.
Make Your Mark Ministries is a group that has delved into the depths of the pain of boys living on the streets and has a rehabilitation program for them. We were able to interview two different boys- one who has been off the streets for 2 years and one who had just entered the program. We asked what life was like on the streets. They opened up honestly about their experiences- crying on holidays because they had no one; huffing glue to dull the pain; regularly being raped by rich men that would come specifically looking for the boys; being beaten by the local police; and fearing that they, like some of their friends, might be kidnapped to have their kidney removed and sold on the black market. Because, yes, this actually does happen.
During his interview, Sintau, the one who had been off the streets for two years talked of his new life and new-found faith in Christ. He told us that he now attends school and works as a welder. When discussing the transformation, he explained that when he came to Make Your Mark, it was the first time he was told that he had value. He specifically talked of the transforming change that happened when he was informed that he was made in the image of God. I asked him what he wanted people to know.
“I want them to see that other street boys can change,” he told me through a translator. “I was told that I could be somebody. They can be somebody, too.”
Below you can see Sintau’s before and after photos along with a photo of him at his new job.
I was also able to go out with a couple of Make Your Mark staff into the streets one night. It’s an experience I still can’t shake. I had done my best to prepare myself for what I might see.
But how do you prepare for street boys that are the ages of your own sons?
How do you prepare for girls literally lining the wall to sell themselves to make enough money to eat?
How do you prepare for meeting a 15 year old deaf prostitute who has run out of other options to survive?
How do you prepare for a pile of sleeping boys huddled together to protect themselves from the men who come to prey on them?
I sat there in a dark corner of a dark street using a little broken Amharic to try to learn their names and ages. Some giggled like the little boys that they were, some were too high on glue to interact, some just stared at me with a look in their eyes that told me they had seen horrors I couldn’t imagine. More than once, I had to remind myself to breathe. And all of this was me only taking it in, while they had to live it.
It was startling to then interact with them at Make Your Mark’s day center later that week- to see some of the same boys in the daylight playing soccer and joking over their lunch. The program there is unique and starts with only care during the day until the boys are ready to make the choice to come off the streets. But I’m thrilled to tell you that the boys that have stuck with the program, many that you see in the photos below, will be moving into housing this Friday!
Again, the words of Sintau, “They can be somebody, too.”
Allow yourself a moment to let the following photos have their full effect on your heart and mind. I’m purposely mixing in photos of some of the same boys on the streets that we met in the at the day center. I can’t say enough about Make Your Mark. To find out how to get involved, head over HERE.
Most of the day center photos posted here were taken by my fellow team member Dawn Victoria.