Junior has had a hard school year. He will be 17 in June and is in 9th grade now. I sent him to a more expensive bilingual school along with Ilayas, Maraya, Yenilove, and Eriverto (Change My Stars scholarship recipient), and I think the knowledge that the school cost more money made him go a little crazy. It was as if he thought, "If there is more money available, I don't want it spent on school, I want shoes!" This seemed to cause him to lose sight of school and do worse this year than last year attendancewise. Everyone else has done really well.
Anyway, this week Morehouse College volunteers helped construct a human compost toilet in Munoz and they helped us install rain encatchments at the boys' new home, as well as do some other random projects such as digging a ditch for the base of the chain link fence. On Wednesday morning we went in a room to get the tools and the door was locked. The frustration rose in me. That morning I had fought with Junior to go to school Ezayi oversees the group home but he doesn't do much fighting, just advising. He normally calls me when it's down to the final straw. Anyway, I lost the bottle, but I thought he had at least gotten up to go work with the welder. I didn't know he was lying in bed at 10am. That's a failure.
I explained to the volunteers with me what was going on and said that they needed him to talk to them. That morning he had declared that he wasn't going to school anymore. The school year is just a month from ending! I said I had done all that I could and I think God had sent them. What followed was beautiful. Atrell and Greg talked to him about the importance of school. They asked him why he didn't go to school and shot down many of his illogical thoughts. I translated into Creole. Atrell had me talk to him about "Imagination, dedication, consistency, and perseverance". It was perfect. He said, "Delayed gratification is not a bad thing." That took awhile for me to translate and explain.
Atrell called in Keith and Keith shared some of his struggles and ways he persevered to get to Morehouse. Charles popped in, pointed to his brain, and said that his mind is his most powerful tool. Zavier asked Junior his name and shared his own name. He then bowed halfway down before him in a praising way and called him a king. I fought back tears. I can't show Junior any weakness these days. He said that he is a king but he needs to believe it and act like it and move like it. Atrell told him that they came from the U.S. to uplift others, especially other young black men. He said they love him and they want what is best for him and are willing to help get him there.
Yesterday, Thursday, Junior made it to school. Today, Friday, he did again. Day by day. It's day by day. But talks like that sure are nicer than running after someone who is quite a bit bigger than me now with a belt! All of the boys were really encouraged by the Morehouse guys' presence. Atrell finished his talk with sharing about Morehouse College, an all male historically black university, and the Bonner program where they do 10 hours of community service each week in exchange for a full scholarship. Then they do an international trip during their Junior year.
I wanted to send Junior to a summer camp at this school in Jarabacoa which is about two hours away. We still have the goal of getting him to Gabby's house for a year of school. Gabby is my mom's grandma name. But we'll see. The fallback goal is just to make sure he stays in morning school until he's 18, and then can continue with night school after that until he graduates if he chooses. That's the goal for all of the boys. At 18 he can work during the day. But he has to work. Consistency, dedication, perseverance. Please keep him in your prayers. And a huge thank you to Morehouse Bonner students and their sweetest professor Dr. Whitney. You guys touched my heart deeply this time. And thank you Lord for taking care of us as you always do.