lunes, 22 de diciembre de 2014

The Newbie is Gone!

So, the newbie, Jemps, didn't last very long. Good thing no one responded to the request for help in warding and educating him. We started questioning his story within the first few days of his stay. His Spanish actually was pretty good. This is never the case with people who have just come from Haiti for the first time as he said he did. When I asked him how he spoke Spanish so well, he said that his brother used to go to the capital and he would ask his brother how to say words and write them in his notebook to learn. I didn't buy it. He spoke like someone who had learned Spanish from living in the country, hearing it, interacting, etc. 

The other boys then reported that a woman asked him, in front of them, if he wasn't selling peanuts anymore. He replied back to her in Spanish that he didn't do that anymore and now lived with them. I spoke to the people he was staying with before us and it was true that he had just showed up and only been with them for a few days, but he had obviously been on the streets of Puerto Plata for an extended period of time prior. Sony and Loren encouraged him to tell the truth. He refused to share any more information or admit that he had lied about anything previously, and laughed it off. He did have a suitcase, which made it look like he had come from Haiti, but it looked like a brand new suitcase, not something a struggling mom in Haiti would send her son with. When I mentioned that, Sony and Loren figured that a foreigner bought that for him on the streets wanting to help him.

Also, within the first few days, he proved to be very... well... annoying! The boys kept reporting him eating meals with them, then waiting for them to leave, and stealing food, giving food to Chinaider who is not included in those food rations because of his older age, and then he would come and tell me he was hungry. He sold his suitcase right away as well. One afternoon he came to our living room window and told me he was hungry, that they had not given him food. Enelbi had been at the window about one minute before him. I said, "Call Enelbi for me". I was going to ask if it was true that he had not eaten with them. He said, "He left". I said, "He just now left, go call him." He left the window for maybe 15 seconds and came back and said, "He left". I told him I wasn't giving him any money or any food. I had a babysitter that week as it was exam week and I spent the full days out of the house, so I needed the extra help. He called the babysitter who was sitting in the living room and told her to give him some food.

If he was 11 or 12, we could've put up with this sort of behavior and disciplined him, but he reported being 16 years old. Unacceptable. The straw that broke the camel's back was that he apparently kept annoying an elderly neighbor and Jeres said that she wanted to or attempted to physically fight with him... something about him using her water spicket. This was at night, so he told him that there had been too many complaints about him and the next morning he needed to take his things and leave. I didn't find out until after he had left about any of this as I was so busy. The boys said that he reported to them that he had 3,000 pesos stored with someone somewhere and was going to retrieve it and go to the capital. Maybe he did know where his aunt's house was after all, if he did have an aunt in the capital. Or maybe he was going to live a life of grapiyay. Grapiyay is a word that basically means a person who lives on the streets. Sometimes it is not someone's fault that they live on the streets. Sometimes, as even happens in the US I believe, kids choose the lifestyle and get some high out of it. Not that they don't have big family needs, but they may have other siblings who, despite the family's needs, live at home with the family.

I have often asked boys not to call each other grapiyay. It has a very negative connotation. But I will admit that when one of them makes me really mad by doing something blatantly rude, like, for example, spitting on the floor inside of the house, I have started using it on occasion. It just has a strong effect and gets the point across. I guess I could also say, "You are inside, not outside. We don't spit on the floor inside," in a more patient way... but I think I lost my head a bit these last few months as I had never been so busy in my life, and didn't have the patience to spare. I really can't believe how much law school I covered in the past few months. I was so very far behind and had to give it all I possibly had to get through the year. We'll see if I passed.

I also recently invented a new word with the root of grapiyay. The word for ungrateful in Creole is engra. So when a boy is being especially rude and also ungrateful, like Jemps who asked the babysitter to give him food after I had told him that I would not be giving him money or food, one could use the word "engrapiyay". An ungrateful grapiyay. And by the way, when I caught up with Enelbi, he said that they did, of course, give him food, so Jemps was lying and scheming. Some people just cannot control themselves. He was probably on the streets prior, struggling to get meals. He found a spot in a home where he received meals, and he needed more? And he needed to scheme? Perfect example of how sometimes it is not just the physical needs that brings someone down, but their lack of education and principles! I will say that no one who acts this way normally lasts long in the home and everyone who is there permanently has not acted this way. You have to have a certain amount of humility, patience, and self control to live in a group and extreme poverty and hardships doesn't automatically create humility in some people.

However, I was impressed by Loren and Sony talking to him about telling the truth. One day, Ilayas was crying because he had lost his toy watch. I was trying to console him and told him I was sorry he lost his watch but he had other cool toys. Jemps told me to tell him I would get him another one. Sony said, "She can't lie to him." Ilayas kept crying a bit and Jemps told him that he himself would get him a new one. Sony got upset with him for lying to him and told him that things would only be worse if he lied about things, in reference to him lying about his background, time in the Dominican Republic, etc.

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