Thursday, February 26, 2009

Day 94: 26 February - Let’s Make a Movie!!!!

I know I have been quiet for a while, and I am sorry for that! Things have just been busy! But a good kind of busy. I am trying to get the word out, in as many ways as possible, that it is child abuse to allow children to live on the streets. A while back I wrote a book called Life Under the Table about my experiences (from the first few years of living in Cape Town) in working with the kids. I have posted it as a blog, for those of you that would like to read it just click on the title. While writing that book I was struck with a harsh conclusion: many stories I would like to tell would not fully be “understood” unless the reader has walked a long road with the individual. So if I told stories of hectic crime or drug abuse that the children partake in, I fear the reader might tend to feel negative feelings about the children, without truly understanding the fullness of the situation and reality with which they live. To remedy that, I decided to write a fictional series, based on a mixture of real experiences of real children, combined with my own imagination and story telling liberties.

The idea for the series is to focus on one “character”, tell the story from his point of view (taking him from his community to the streets to wherever his path takes him), and allow the reader to build a relationship with him, so that when he begins to participate in “questionable” behavior of street life, the reader is on “his side”. I have finished the first book of the series (though I have not approached publishers yet) and am working on the second. As I was writing the first book, which I titled Out of Manenberg, I often pictured it as a movie and dreamed about seeing it one day manifest itself in “film” form. I want to make a proper, great quality, feature length film of Out of Manenberg, and though I realize this is extremely ambitious, I know that dreams have to start somewhere. So I have decided to pursue this dream with a little more aggression and I am trying to raise funds to actually MAKE the movie! I have a very talented director friend who is excited and willing to work on the project. All we need is money.

I am trying to raise 1 Million Dollars, which sounds like tons of money but for a feature length film it is merely a drop in the bucket. I started a group on face book “I hope to find 1 million people willing to give 1 dollar each, to make a movie” and I opened a Pay Pal account so that people can give. If you are interested in giving you can click on the “donate” button on the right hand side of your screen or click here. If you want to give but do not wish to use Pay Pal feel free to contact me at It only takes 1 dollar to become an executive producer of this film! Please help spread the word, even if you can’t give 1 dollar you can help by telling all your friends! As a little incentive, here is the first chapter of the book:

OUT OF MANENBERG - Chapter 1: Learning To Survive

I can’t sleep. Its nights like these where I lay and think. All of my shattered dreams, aspirations, and hopes, of what I could have done, of what I could have been, swirl around in my head like a raging storm. I lay here on this thin mattress with nothing to drown out my loud thoughts except for deafening silence and the sound of rats scratching around the prison floor. Yeah, I have had a rough life, but I truly have no one to blame but myself for the place I am in now. I had an opportunity to make it out of my life, that was destined to go nowhere, and then because of one stupid choice, I threw it all away. I will spend the rest of my life behind these walls, encaged within these bars. How did I get here? There’s no simple answer, but the best place to start is the beginning.

I was born in 1987 in Manenberg, a suburb of Cape Town that has a reputation for violence and gangsterism. I never knew my father, but from what I hear about him, I don’t really care to ever meet him. He lives far away or is dead by now. I don’t really care. I have three brothers and two sisters, all except for two are from different men. I am the oldest. My mom was as loving as she knew how to be. She also didn’t know her father. That’s because her mom was raped by a white police officer. She grew up during a hard time and the white people made it difficult for her to succeed. She had no education and she would try and drink away her problems with alcohol. She didn’t have a job but we never seemed to struggle too much for our basic needs. Well, that is if you consider water, sometimes food and shelter basic needs. Our neighbors would always give us rice and bread when we needed it.

I have always been a natural leader. I am small, but I learned how to use my mouth at a young age. I got into my fare share of trouble because of my mouth, but I also learned how to use it as a deadly weapon, when need be. I have also been in my fair share of fights, and though I am small, I am pretty tough. I remember my first fight. I was seven, and my brother, the second oldest, Andre was four. He came home one day screaming and blood was streaming down his face. Mom had sent him to the store to buy her a cigarette and on the way Melvin, one of the known troublemakers of our area, tried to take his money. Melvin was a thirteen-year-old bully and he got away with it because his older brother was one of the big shots in one of the prominent gangs in our area, the Hard Livings. When Melvin tried to take the money from Andre, my brother knew that the beating he would get from Melvin would not be nearly as bad as the one he would get from my mom if he returned home with no cigarette and no money, so he stood up to him. Melvin hit Andre so hard that he fell and busted his head open on the ground. Then Melvin sat on Andre and took the money from him.

I listened, as Andre stood there crying and bleeding all over the floor. After I had gotten the facts straight, I decided to go settle things with Melvin. No one messes with my little brother. I felt my heart pounding in my chest as I ran to confront Melvin. By the time I got to the shop, Melvin was standing there, smoking the cigarette that was supposed to be my mom’s and he was laughing and telling the story of how he had gotten it, to a group of about five of his friends. I felt a warm sensation all over my body and it felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest. Melvin was twice my size and known for his fighting abilities.

I picked up a brick that was lying on the ground and started for him. Before he knew it, I had jumped up onto him and I hit him on the forehead with the brick. As he fell to the ground, I landed on top of him. The brick fell out of my hands and bounced as it hit the ground. My arms went numb as I punched him in the face over and over again. I could feel my knuckles being shredded by his teeth but I could not stop myself. I had never felt that kind of rage before. His friends stood there in shock, not really knowing what to do. When I saw that he was unconscious, I stopped. There I sat, on top of bloody, unconscious Melvin, with a group of kids standing there in absolute shock. I slowly stood up and picked the brick back up, in case some of his friends got any bright ideas. I looked at them and I could tell that I had a wild look in my eyes that scared them; a look of a wild animal on the prowl, ready to devour his next prey. They all just stood there like statues. I announced, “You tell Melvin, when he wakes up, that if he EVER touches my brother again, I will finish what I started.” Pretty big words for a seven year old! But I had heard the older gangsters in our block of flats say things like that before.

Then I remembered my mom’s cigarette and I searched Melvin’s pocket and found a whole rand. I went into the shop and bought the cigarette for my mom and two sweets, one for me and one for Andre. I walked proudly back to my house. I felt a sense of power that I had never felt before. I felt like I ruled the neighborhood. I felt like I could take on a whole army if I had to. When I got back to my house, I gave my mom her cigarette and I gave Andre his sweet and I sat down and told him the whole story.

Fighting was a necessity in my neighborhood. Those who couldn’t fight for themselves, had to walk around with those who could both fight for them and for themselves. The gangs ruled the area and they preyed on the young boys. They recruited from a very young age. If you didn’t join a gang, you were in danger. At least if you were in a gang, you would only have the threat of the rival gang and the protection of your own along with it. If you were not in one, you would have to watch your back all the time for all of them. I hated them. I decided from a young age that I was never going to join a gang.

Andre’s dad was a gangster. He lived with us around that same time. The hatred that I had for that man is not describable with words. Every night, he would sit with his friends, in our kitchen, and smoke buttons until he could barely talk right. I hated him even more when he was in that state. He was an evil man most of the time, but when he was dik geroek , he would put the devil himself to shame. Sometimes he would even pass out right there on the floor. I preferred it when he would just kap om , which was only every now and then, because the other times, which was basically every night, he would end up beating my mom and then he would turn his attention on Andre. He hated Andre and always talked about how he was a “mistake”. He beat every bit of dignity and self-respect that was left in my mom, right out of her.

I remember her from a real young age. Even though it seems I was too young to remember things like that, I can still picture her beautiful face in my mind! I thought she was the most beautiful lady that had ever walked on the face of this earth. She was young, at the ripe age of 19, when I was born. When I was three she got with Andre’s dad and then everything went down hill from there. Their relationship was never that good but he only started really beating her like that when he found out she was pregnant with Andre. He blamed her for getting pregnant and some nights he would make her drink and drink to a dangerous point, to try and abort the baby. Some nights he would beat her and even hit and kick her on her stomach. I was young, and I would just sit there on the floor crying, but those pictures are still engraved in my mind.

When Andre was born, it got even worse. He beat my mom on a nightly basis. By the time Andre was three and I was six, my mom looked like a totally different person to the beautiful young lady that I once remembered. The beatings had added years onto her and she looked like a forty-year-old lady. She had also lost sight in her left eye from one of the more vicious beatings. Her eye was white and cloudy. Her skin was worn and looked like leather and her lips were always swollen. It broke my heart to even look at her because I loved my mom more than anyone else in the world. When I was eight years old, I finally couldn’t take it anymore. I came in from playing with friends one night and I found my mom, bleeding and unconscious, on the floor. Then I heard Andre screaming in the back room and I could hear his dad beating him and telling him to shut his mouth. His words slurred together, as they often did when he was dik geroek.

I felt that same feeling that I did in that first fight with Melvin. By then I had gotten used to it because I had been in many more fights over the years. I picked up a screwdriver that was laying in the kitchen and I ran back to the back room. I stopped in the doorway and saw the bastard standing over Andre with his belt in his hands. Andre was curled up on the floor and was crying and pleading for him to stop. “Jou ma se poes kind! Jy’s net soos jou ma!” He continued to hit Andre, with the buckle part of the belt. I could not take it anymore. I felt a rush of rage and then everything turned black. I jumped on his back and stuck the screwdriver into the back of his neck and he immediately fell to the ground. He fell on top of my leg and I had to pull it out from under him to stand up. I went over to Andre and helped him sit up.

His eyes were swollen shut from the beatings and he was bleeding all over. I held him and told him that everything was going to be alright. My heart felt like it was ripped into a hundred pieces. I loved my brother more than anything or anyone else in the world, apart from my mom, and it killed me to see him like that. I started to cry and I sobbed like never before. We just sat there on the floor and I held Andre until he fell asleep in my arms. I was in shock and I just sat there, shaking, crying and I held Andre tight until I eventually fell asleep. I was awoken by a loud blood-curdling scream the next morning. My mom had woken up and came into the room and saw her man laying on the floor in a puddle of dried blood with a screw driver sticking out of the back of his neck. She picked me up and started shaking me, screaming, “What have you done?! What have you done?!” I searched deep within for words, but nothing came out.

She collapsed to the ground and held me tight in her arms and began to sob. I could see that she wasn’t crying because she was sad, but because she was actually relieved. Andre woke up and came over and we all sat there on the floor for hours. Time passed by slowly and we all just sat there and didn’t say a word. Looking back, strangely enough, that was the best time I ever spent with my mom. For the first time ever…maybe the only time…we felt like a real family. We sat there until the night and my mom finally went out to a friend’s house. A little bit later she returned with some men and they took away the body and we never heard anything about it again. The police didn’t get involved and there wasn’t even a funeral. Of course the word got out in the neighborhood, that I had killed a man, which only helped my reputation amongst the kids.

I had killed someone. I felt no remorse, no grief, but that wasn’t the thing that scared me. What really scared me was that I knew if I were put in the same situation again, I would do it over again. I had to protect my mom and my brother. They were all I had.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Day 87: 19 February - FACT

No child should ever EVER be allowed to live on the streets for any reason what so ever, exclamation point!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Day 77: 9 February - Unfair Truths Continue

I woke up earlier than usual this morning in order to meet Lee’s new found “guardian” to pick her up and take her to the school that Lee attended last year (the school where I teach). I wouldn’t have forgotten my promise to “help” because Lee had been on my mind the entire weekend after our meeting on Friday, but had I forgotten about my engagement with his “auntie” this morning, I would have been reminded by her call last night, “making sure we were still on”, and then her call again this morning, “just wanting to make sure that I was still coming”. This was encouraging to me. I could feel her sense of urgency and genuine concern for Lee. When I arrived at her house she was eagerly waiting for me. We drove to the school.

When we arrived at the school the principal was busy in a meeting and so we were informed by the secretary we would have to wait about thirty minutes for him. Lee’s auntie did not seem phased by this. In the meantime, I took her into the secretary’s office and introduced them to each other. Lee’s auntie then sat down in the chair across from the secretary’s desk and began to spill out her story with a gush of emotion. I just sat there and watched as she explained to the secretary how when her daughter had first brought Lee to her house and asked if he could stay with them, she immediately rejected the request without blinking. She said that Lee began to cry and ran off, and her daughter chased after him, probably making some teenage-like comment to her mother as she ran away, chasing after Lee.

Lee’s auntie’s eyes began to fill up with tears. “Then it became late, and my daughter had still not returned home so I went up to main road to look for her... where she said Lee had been staying…” The dam blocking her tear filled eyes broke and tears began to stream down her face, “When I got up to main road I saw her standing beside an old broken down BMW. I walked up to it and looked inside and saw Lee. He had his shirt pulled over his knees and was curled up in a ball. My daughter said, ‘Look where he is living mom!’ and it was at that moment that I realized I could not allow a child to live in that situation, even if he was not my own child.” Her tears streamed down heavier as she told the rest of the story of how she took in Lee, how his drunk grandmother had visited her house and the only interest she showed in Lee was to swear at him profusely and then left again, and how she wanted so badly for him to get back in school. My heart broke for her.

Before long the principal got out of his meeting and we met with him in his office. Lee’s auntie had hoped he would change his mind about refusing to enroll Lee at his school, but he did not. He explained that he has a whole school of students to think about and teachers that would be very unhappy at Lee’s return to school. But he did show a true concern about Lee and said that he wanted to help in any way he could to get Lee placed in another school. I felt caught in the middle because I fully understood his side and reasoning for not wanting to take Lee back, but I could also see the heartbreak in the Auntie because she has seen a “new Lee” and was not as familiar with the one that the principal and I spoke of in that meeting. I could see the Principal’s frustration with the “system” as he explained that he has been having literal nightmares about this situation.

He asked if there was nothing that could be done in holding Lee’s parents accountable. He asked it, knowing the answer: it would be a long road with social services that would probably be in vain. The Auntie also informed us that the new school had said they would only take Lee based on his report from last year. I knew that his report was far from something they would accept. I asked the Principal what the possibility was of the new school accepting him in order to do grade five over again. The principal informed me that last year was, in fact, Lee's second time to do grade five and they are forced to push up a student, no matter what, if they are more than two years behind the grade they are supposed to be in. That is when I once again noticed how policies are failing our children and are also not being holistically implemented on the ground level.

Though this “push them up” rule is true, and occurs way too frequently, often producing children in high school who are completely illiterate, I also know that the South African School Act of 1996 states that a parent that does not see that his or her child is going to school can be prosecuted. I can see how the latter policy could come in handy in meeting the principal’s request to “hold the parents” accountable, but I know the reality of the situation is that would never happen. So we all walked out of the meeting not feeling much more positive about the situation. The principal remains haunted by the fact that he is caught between what is “right” for his other students and for his staff, and what is “right” for Lee, Lee’s auntie feels disempowered to help this child that she has now taken into her care and cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I can’t help but feel a little apathetic. Because I know the system, I have seen it mess many-a-kid over, and I can see where this story is headed. However, Lee’s life cannot be changed by apathy, and I will continue to hope, and do whatever I can to try and see positive change come in his life. He deserves a break!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Day 74: 6 February - Unfair Truths

My heart hurts. That sounds pretty dramatic but it is the best way to describe how I feel today after spending time with a twelve year old boy who I will call Lee (not his real name). For those of you that don’t know, apart from the work I do with the children living on the streets, I also teach Life Orientation in a grade six class of a small school in Woodstock (an immediate suburb of Cape Town CBD). Over the few years that I have been involved in the school I have also done individual counseling and work with specific students that are highlighted by the teachers as “problematic” or “troubled”. That is how I met Lee.

Last year the school was having a number of problems with Lee. He absconded quite often and when he was at school he was unruly and acted out the majority of the time. He had a short temper and would explode at the slightest provocation of a teacher or another student. He would frequently become aggressive and vulgar with other students, yet seemed to have leadership qualities that would cause other students to follow him, mostly in defiant behavior. The school asked me to meet with Lee and try and “get to him”. Unfortunately, I only got to meet with him, formally, one or two times because I go in on Mondays and that seemed to be his “day off”. But I did study up on his case and would occasionally get to casually speak to him out on the playground.

Lee was born to a single mother. His dad is currently in jail, and I believe is involved in gangster activities. When Lee was about three years old his mother decided she wanted “nothing to do with him”, a convenient form of post-contraception that is all too common in the world today. His grandmother grudgingly took him in, but it was apparently clear from the beginning that she resented having to do so because he was merely a “distraction” to her partying way of life. She has a boyfriend that is mean to Lee, and she blames Lee for any argument that her boyfriend starts with him. They both drink heavily and are abusive to Lee. So last year seeing that little eleven year old boy, so full of anger, hurt and pain, feeling like nobody “wants” him, it was no wonder to me as to why he acted out in the way he did.

This year the school decided that they could not afford to take him because of his negative influence on other students. This Monday the principal spoke with me about Lee and said that he is losing sleep thinking about him. He has had many people approach him who have seen Lee in Woodstock and they report back all sorts of negative stories and situations they have seen Lee in. The principal does not have any contact details for Lee but has heard that he is not living with his grandmother anymore. He asked me to see if I saw him and try and speak to him and find out “where he is at”. So when I saw Lee sitting on main road Woodstock today I nearly slammed on my breaks, did a u-turn and went to speak to him.

Lee seemed excited to see me as I walked up to him. I sat and chatted with him for a while and he explained that he is having trouble getting transferred to a new school because the old school has not given his release papers to him. I asked him about where he is staying now and he told me he was staying with his auntie. I asked if I could go with him to visit her and he seemed eager to the possibility and so we began walking to her house. On the way there he told me, “She is not my real auntie. She is just looking after me and lets me stay with her. She will tell you about it.” We walked down into the “rougher” part of Woodstock, near Gympie Street (for those of you that are familiar with Woodstock) and approached a dilapidated house. He told me he would call her and entered into the house. A few minutes later out came a lady who warmly invited me in.

At first glance, she looked like a character out of a movie. I know it is not good to judge a book by its cover, but if I were casting for a movie and needed someone to play a “tough gangster prostitute”, she would have the part. She is as thin as a skeleton, full of tattoos, has a complete set of gold teeth, and was wielding a knife as she walked to the door. She even had some word tattooed on her knuckles, which you don’t see all that often on females. She immediately noticed and admired my body art and I realized that my tattoos in those situations have stronger credibility than my social work degree from U.C.T. After asking me about my tattoo artist she began by saying, “I will just be honest, I used to deal drugs but I am not involved with that anymore.”

She told me that her daughter, who was sitting on the other side of the room, had met Lee in Woodstock and noticed that he was sleeping in a broken down car, because his grandmother couldn’t “handle him anymore”. She felt pity for him and took him in. She told me about how she treats him as one of her own and about her efforts of trying to get him in another school and even how she had already bought him school clothes. I could see that though this might not be the most ideal of living situations for Lee, at least someone showed interest in him and care for him, and he seemed to be eating it up. Besides, it is definitely a step up from living alone in a broken down car, at the age of twelve. I informed the auntie that I would speak to the principal and would help them get Lee back in school. She was thrilled. After our chat with “his auntie” Lee walked me back to my car.

On the way he told me about a case that he now has against him for stabbing another youngster. As he spoke I could see the fear, hurt, pain, and heart ache in his eyes; not just about the court case, but about everything: his entire life. Before I left, I put my hand on his shoulder and looked him deep in the eyes and said, “I know it is not easy! But you have to understand, whatever your mother and grandmother have done or are doing, really and truly has nothing to do with you! No matter what they say! You are just a kid and you should not have to live through the things that you have and they are supposed to look after and care for you no matter what! It is not your fault, and I understand why you act out in school the way you do, but it also doesn’t excuse it. You have the choice to use these things that you have been through as an excuse to go on in the way you are now, or you can decide to walk a different path, and prove everybody wrong! I believe in you and I think you are a great kid, and I want to try and support you in whatever way I can. Do you understand?”

He looked at me with tears welling up in his eyes and nodded his head yes. He was trying hard not to show emotion because it is not beneficial to do so in that part of main road Woodstock. But I could see that he heard me and my words were sinking into his heart. It is so sad to see a kid that literally has no one in the world that is on his side. His own family does not want anything to do with him, and that is no secret to him or anyone else. When I look at him I just see a little hurting kid that just wants to be loved and merely have a place where he belongs. Unfortunately, in that part of Woodstock there are plenty of places to find belonging but majority of them are unsuitable places for a kid to "belong". In that particular part of Woodstock, for every one person there is that is willing to take in a kid like Lee for all the “right” reasons, there are at least fifty more that are willing to take him in for all the wrong reasons. Lee is just another example to me of a kid that is in a situation, out of his control and yet totally unfair!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Day 70: 2 February - Snap Shot

People are probably sick and tired of hearing my "reasons" as to why it is inappropriate for children to be allowed to live on the streets! Well, i actually don't care!! I am sick and tired of children being allowed to live on the streets. Today i just had a simple yet eerie reminder of how vulnerable children living on the streets are to all types of things; especially when it comes to tourists. These children are in the public eye. They are always there. They are easily accessible. Adults use them for all types of things, and because these children need money most of the time, they have become accustomed to doing these "all types of things". They are probably the most accessible yet vulnerable members of society. This is commonly known by tourists, and members of the public, and they use it for their advantage.

So what happened today was really all that big of a deal. It was just more of a reminder of what i just spoke about; that these children are vulnerable and easily accessible to all types of people that "make use" of them for all types of things. I was online and i was googling information about "street children". On a bit of a side note, i visited India in early 2000 for three months, and made friends with many children living on the streets of different cities I visited. One place where i made many little friends was Calcutta, and specifically with the children living on Sudder Street (a very touristy area). So today when i was googling information about "street children", i decided to narrow my search to "street children sudder street". I did a google image search. There were a few pictures of Sudder Street but no kids that i recognized and so i decided to try narrowing it a bit more and adding in a child's name that i remembered. I went with Israel, one of the kids i became closer with, and mostly because it was easy to spell.

"street children Sudder Street Israel". To my surprise, the first two pictures that came up were actual pictures of the kid that i had hung out with over nine years ago! One picture he was by himself, smiling, and leaning up against a taxi. In the other picture he was with a group of other kids i remembered. They were just pictures in someones flicker photo bucket. Probably someone like me who made friends with the kid and took their pictures. It is really not all that big of a deal i guess, but it left me with kind of an eerie feeling. I mean, the pictures were not inappropriate in any way, and the children looked happy. But looking at it from another angle, if you were just a suburban parent, and you went to google image and you googled your child's name, and pictures actually came up that you were not aware of, wouldn't it sit a little funny with you? Ok, i think i might be blowing this a little out of proportion because Israel is not my kid, and i don't even know that he doesn't know that his picture is online. Maybe he does. But whether i am overreacting or not it was a reminder for me as to how accessible and vulnerable these children are and just how many people have access to them!

I specifically remember having a long conversation one day with that very kid about how many of the young boys on Sudder Street have sex with foreigners for money. I remember being gutted as i was sitting there listening to that 12 year old (approximately at the time) tell me about these things, and not shying away from including himself. So seeing that picture of him online, looking about the same age as when i met him, just made me sit and think about where he might be now, nine years later. How old he must be, how hardened he might be, how much he has been subjected to, and how many people he has had contact with that have used him, exploited him and abused him for their own pleasure or purposes. This is just one example of one kid. I just thought i would share my experience with you.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

There's more to education than 1-2-3

I'm a teacher. I get paid to teach. My children must pass their "tests" or I'm not doing my job. They must reach their benchmarks or I've failed. I must make sure they know their math facts or I've caused them to miss a major building block for future grades. Their education rests on my shoulders along with their future success.

But....I stop in the middle of a lesson so the class can make "get well" cards for someone's grandmother who is having surgery; I take my lunch time to sit with a small boy in my lap who needs to cry because his mom died 2 weeks ago, and later I "beg" my colleagues for any extra money so that I can get a headstone for the same little boy to put on his Mama's grave; I skip math facts drill so that Joe can show the class the pictures of his new little brother; I use 5 minutes of silent reading time so that Ali, the shyest child in the class, can recite a poem she wrote; I go to the store duirng planning time to get some new clothes for Autumn who never has nice things and who doesn't smell too fresh because she's still wearing winter clothes and it's 90 degrees; I find a dentist who will donate his time to put top teeth in for one of my parents because her little girl says she can't find a job while she's "toothless"; I try my best to help a single dad who has been living in his car with his 3 children, and I try not to be discouraged when they disappear again in the middle of the night; I tell the kicking, screaming, cussing, hissing, ball of child in my arms how much I love him as I carry him to the office for the 3rd time this week; I look parents in the eye and tell them what they need to hear instead of what they always want to hear; I skip Social Studies so that my whole class can sneak with me into the cafeteria to hide surprises for the "cafeteria ladies"and I spend a good deal of time teaching my students how to be good people. Is this in the standards? Nope. Am I an activist? You Bet!!

I'm a human. I don't get paid to be human, but it's the best part of my job!