Saturday, 20 December 2008

My Deviations from Professional Boundaries; The story of P

I had gone to a restaurant at artifical beach with my friend to have a quick snack and as we started eating a small boy,lets call him Master P, came towards us and asked me whether we could give him one Rufiyaa. This had never happened to me before and I was surprised and curious.
I think the staff saw the boy approaching as one of them started to gesture at the boy to move out. But before I could say anything , the boy said he was just very hungry and he wanted to go to the shop and buy something.
I felt uncomfortable to just offer him money but it was also not possible to eat in front of this small boy. I then realised that the boy kept looking at a particular direction so I followed his gaze and my eyes fell on three more little boys , aged around 9-10 years.
At this point I said, ' if you are hungry you can sit at this table , I will buy you something to eat'
But he shook his head and said, ' my friends want something to eat too', so I extended my invitation.
The waiter gave me a dirty look as he took the order.
What did they want? All four of them wanted 'chocolate milkshakes'
Meanwhile, I asked them why they were on the streets like this and why they were begging.
Master P, I guess who was the leader of the group spoke up.
He said, ' Mummy goes to work immediately after we come back from school and there was noone at home to give us any food' but hesitatingly he added,' not really, there is garudhiya and bai, everyday and we like to eat something different'
I asked whether they begged frequently like this.
Apparently begging was not frequent, but they spent most of their time loitering at artifical beach. I wanted to know more so I asked them about their families.
According to Master P, one of the other boys in the group was his brother and they lived in this single room. Mother had to earn money, so she had to go out frequently and she had said that they can eat and go out to play afterwards. The other boys had similar things to tell.
I asked them what people did when they approached them for money. Apparently, one of the boys who was now sitting very queitly had been taken to childrens unit because someone reported it.
As small as they were, they had their own views about this experience and the boy said,' we dont have a choice, we cant stay inside the house all the time, anyway mummy says to go out, so we are not doing anything wrong........'
I asked them how many hours per day they spent like this at the beach. ' atleast 7 to 8 hours' was the answer. And to my question on the type of experiences they have had,
' lot of other boys here knows us, even the big boys..but we are good even if they offer us cigarettes we don't use it, we just play around'
By now the milkshakes were brought and I watched as the boys gulped it down.
And while they were drinking it I saw this ghastly scar on Master P's upper arm.
I could not help but ask him what it was, he said reluctantly, ' my mother burnt me with the iron because one day I did not listen to her'
The moment they finished their milkshake they just wanted to run away and they did.
I was at a complete loss for what to do. I asked my friend to report about the boys to the concerned authorities.
Traumatised, hungry, neglected minors, vulnerable to the vultures who were selling drugs and other evils lurking at every street corner of Male'...
I felt angry with the parents, with the society and also with myself.
I knew what I had done here was wrong. Buying them a milkshake was not the thing to do. I did it becuase I could not take mine watching the thirst on their faces..and reporting to the units....was this a solution or a 'bolun nattaalun'???
I was not in a position to follow up on the boys either and now its nearly 4 years since that day, I still remember the look on Master P's face when he said ....he was hungry, I have frequently wondered about where they may be in life now....
Yes. We can spend thousands of Rufiyaa on shouting 'wake up' on the streets, we can conduct awareness programmes all over the country and politicians to win our votes say holding loud speakers ,' we will eradicate the drug problem in the country....'
I often feel like saying just this.
' bull'
(to continue...analysing the core issues underlying stories of XYP...will welcome your contributions..)


.mini said...

four years back? really?
ive never heard of such a thing in Maldives
true, those wake up programmes are useless, no outcome is seen
just posters and t shirts, some stuff on tv

Hilath said...

This may be an unusual coincidence but I met two boys years back at Artificial Beach. They came to me as I and a friend were about to enter the former Movenpick restaurant and they boldly us whether we could buy them chocolate ice creams. I bought them the ice creams and they left. They looked somewhat cheerful that day and it didn't occur to me that such a terrible story might be lurking behind their smiles; I thought at the time that they were little children very boldly asking strangers to indulge them in their indulges! I guess appearances are not true sometimes. Thanks for sharing this in your post.

rxs said...

this is a sad story.. as is most that regard our society.
but there is success in it. These kids are extremely resilient. If a bunch of them, who truly defy the 'vultures' can be used to strengthen others... is that an opportunity there..

thankyou naaz.. for sharing.

nymphs said...

That wake up campaign is just a show,so that people will think that the government is doing something to solve the drug problem. Had they acted on time this wouldn’t be happening to our society. Those three boys are probably into drugs by now. There wasn't much you or anyone could do in that situation. If anyone is to be blamed it’s their parents & the relevant authorities. The authorities never take responsibility for anything. Even if an old man gets robbed in front of them they won’t take any action. I’ll share the story with you. My friend & I went to the park in front of the MNDF building & sat down to have a chat. After a while we heard a man cry out for help, someone has obviously robbed him. We saw that it was an old man and also the MNDF official who was on guard duty and another official was just standing and watching. They did nothing to stop it, if they tried they could have caught the guy but why bother? I got very angry but we couldn’t do anything as he went & sat there. We couldn’t even call the police because we left our phones at home. We approached the poor guy; his leg was swollen from phylaria. We tried to talk to him but he was very angry & wouldn’t talk to us. He gave an angry look so we walked away. After coming home I called MNDF to raise the issue since I saw two of their officials stood there doing nothing. Their answer was the police peoples business and they are the MNDF. They also told me it was no big deal, he sits in the park to eat & they think he is mad. I don’t think he was a mad person. Even if he was no one has any right to go & rob him. I mean even if he appears mad he is also a human being one with feelings. I thought the duty of MNDF officials was to protect everyone, not only the sane people who could take care of themselves. When I’m also old if somebody robs it would make no difference. He told me the guy standing there would have reported the police station since he can’t abandon his guard duty & I should call the police station. I called t & told the whole story; the guard standing has not even reported the police station, police people told me it was the duty of who ever who saw the crime & I totally agree. I called the MNDF, reported again that the guard didn’t report the case to the police station. This time their answer was the guard did not see the incident. He would have seen it but since he was poor old man they didn’t want to give him protection. So people don’t ever count on the authorities to do anything.

Anonymous said...

rxs is right. recruit them to be ambassadors to fight neglect.

You are doing a great job to educate and make people aware of this kind of abuse and neglect. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

It's not everyday people are truly concerned about what happens to other human beings, or empathize on what they go through. I think there should be more people like you who can question themselves a second time.

But isn't there anything anyone can possibly do? so much talk and no action... there must be a solution, at least a relief to this.. and I wish people stop pointing fingers at others, because they seem to care less or do less, actually no one can care fully because it seems like it's hopeless to do anything about it, a lost cause to care for. But still, there should be SOMETHING we can do..

fenupary said...

I had a similar experience in the Lemongrass restaurant in Male' just three months back. Two boys aged about 9 or 10 years approached us and ask for 20 Rf. We asked about the need for money and they simply said they need to buy food. Instead of giving money we told them to order anything they want and eat with us. The look on their face about the suggestion and later when they ate the food was something hard to forget. It really pains to think of those kids and what might be in store for them in future.