Friday, October 22, 2010

EA: What do you see?

*sigh* Some things do not change, no matter which part of the world you are from.

In EA, sometimes the volunteers will talk amongst ourselves about the difficulty in 'marketing' the cause for at-risk youths. The very politest term we can use is 'at-risk', and even then, some people shun the cause because they see this as 'less worthy'.

It brings me back almost fifteen years ago when I was a student in England (gosh, am I really that old?! >.<). Ever so often, the newspapers would have a field day because at that time, a new programme had been developed. This programme sent youths who had quote unquote 'broken the law' to countries like Africa for two-week trips to experience being in a country where people are less fortunate and to see and experience the difference they could make in others' lives through community service.

Sounds familiar? Uh-huh. Totally the same as Expedition Agape.

Except, as I understand, this programme was funded by tax-payers money.

Whoa, the storm of letters (emails were not so in vogue in those Dark Ages >.<) that the newspapers would receive. "What IS this?" and "Are we rewarding bad behavior?" and "We should give MORE DERSERVING kids a chance!" and "Why are we sending these juveniles on a HOLIDAY?" are samples of the comments that were expressed in those fiery letters.

None of these letter-writers seemed to see and pick up just who these kids were. The way the writers referred to these youths were as 'juvenile delinquents' 'petty criminals' 'trouble-makers' etc.

They didn't know or want to know the juvenile's name. They didn't know what kind of family these kids had come from. They didn't want to know what struggles the youths had undergone and why they had been selected for this special program in the first place.

Fast-forward 15 years and what has changed? Different country, same program, same difficulties in being accepted.

I wonder sometimes why people don't take time out to see beyond the labels.

You know what I see when I meet up with the youths?

I see bright, active young men and women.

I see youths with the same potentials, hopes, dreams, mischiefs (:>, intelligence, talents, chances to succeed, to be a world leader and change-maker as any other youth.

I see strong guys and gals who have gone through so much more than a lot of youths and who are choosing to rise up to be a difference in this world by taking part in EA.

I see young people who have made mistakes and who are getting up and changing their lives, and I want to lend a hand and help them to carry on in life because I know what it's like to fall. Because I'm human, and I've fallen before, just as we all have, and I know that one fall, doesn't determine your destiny.

I wish that others could see, not through the eyes of judgement and hatred, but through the eyes of love.

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