Yesterday our SOS Chai shift on the presqu’ile de Caen was incredibly busy and had some challenging moments.
The mood shifts of the boys are very real as the warmer weather disappears and the colder weather moves in.
It’s harder to find time to really chat and find out what life is like as they are so cold and so hungry, but I also have found myself thinking that very real fears of how they will cope with sickness and surviving the cold and sleeping in ditches are more tangible.
Even though we had a lovely time with them as usual, catching up and getting a healthy meal inside of them, fears seemed much more on the surface, and emotions more frayed.
We had a very mixed group last night of Sudanese, Afghanistans and Iranians, and probably some other nationalities in the group. It felt challenging at moments to watch the different cultures juggle for attention.
We have some boys we know very well now, and others a little and some not at all, and theres always a need to try and notice each one, and not just see them as a group.
I was so warmed by the way the team all seemed to have boys they had connected with, and noticed their needs individually and were doing their best to meet those needs with what we had available that night.
It was lovely to see a very cold lad, pull on a warm jumper that had been sent from the USA, and smile as he realised it also looked great on him! We’d asked them to tell us which jumper they’d like but sometimes they struggle to make decisions as to what they need. So a team member came along side, to say, “you’re cold, and this would look great on you”, which the lad really responded to positively; which led me to think how much they need parenting and loving into the guys that they are to become. Practical loving advice, but also just the simple act of seeing their individuality and saying that their style and choice matters.
So in the changing season, of autumn to winter, we need to not just be meeting needs, but seeking to respond to fears, to their young fragile minds and hearts that are missing families and parenting, and to seeing the individual in the group, and making those eye to eye connections that say, you matter to us, and we want to ‘know’ you.
I learning to not just panic in the immense need we are faced with and be busy, busy, busy with the practical (as that’s so easy to do on one of these evenings in the winter), but to seek for those precious moments of ‘seeing’ the diamond in the making in each of these significant lives.
And I also want to say how much we appreciate each of you who serve with SOS Chai, have played a part, have raised income, and sent out donations of clothing etc. Merci beaucoup and we pray every blessing over you all.