People on the street have this time round been overwhelmed by seeing how MUCH Ryan cares about them. I sense that many of them feel that he is doing it with them in mind whether child or adult.
While sitting with him at the Crippie last weekand hearing the guys tell their stories with ease made me realise how comfortable they are sharing their lives with him believing that somehow it will benefit the cause.During this time one of the guys who is now in his twenties told us of how he had moved through all the institutions,reformatories and prisons there are in cape town, he spoke about how he would always get into fights and be placed somewhere else. His fists kept him moving and running because they wanted to take him.The scars and tatoos on his body was testmony to this and it seemed that some how he was still punching. He knew most of the people at all these different places and had vivid recollections of his time spent there.His life had been a fight on and off the streets.
'I saw a picture of you when you must have been about 8....on the front cover of an old annual report '...really? he said. His face lit up and it seemed as if he stopped punching for one minute.'How did I look'...he asked. 'Like an eight year old...... innocent, small, optimsitic about life and its wonders, your face was clear and there were no scars to testify of anything. He hung onto my words like a prisoner behind bars...but for a moment the cell was opened and he was given the opportunity to hold his child he had not heard or seen for a very long time, his eyes shining as he asked more questions of which I had no answers because i didnt know him then. Silence. He looked at me waiting...his eyes were saying 'remind me of my innocence, what happened all this time, i want to go back....they took it from me...i want it back.
' I want to know more when you see him again....please is what his eyes were saying. The cell is shut as the key turns. The glow disappears as he stirs the 10 o clock stew at The Crippie.
I am reminded of how many other boys like him were robbed of their innocence by forces unknown to them. We have seen to many tears and heard to many stories and still we cannot protect their innocence. Its sad to see a country hearing the cries of its children and not taking responsibilty for them because its their choice. I too over the last 7 years have been frustrated to see kids being allowed to fall into cycles of self destruction because they knew no better. I agree with Ryan that children shouldnt be allowed to live on the streets and its sad to have to remind young men about the days before their innocence were taken.I do not want to continue having to read the eyes of them saying 'Remind me of my innocence......Im out.