“There’s a new kid in batang pinangga. His name is Gabriel. All children welcomed him. They helped him find his place in the dining table, how to wash his hands before eating, how to pray before and after meals. They hold his hand. They showed him his bed, where’s the toilet, to brush teeth like them, to leave your slippers when you enter the house, to listen to Mama. Then together they run barefoot to the playground. The task was complete; they have taught the new kid everything there is to know.
The next day Louie came running to Mama. Gabriel was not using the toilet instead just did it in the grounds. Children reported a lot of strange things about Gabriel. Ate Emmie was not happy seeing Gabriel hoops from one bed to another, up down, up down. He locks every door. He lets the water tap running endlessly. He makes soap bubbles while washing his hands. He says bad words. They said they have taught him everything but he did not follow.
Give him time, I told the worried, complaining children, adding that it was like for all of them when they first arrived in Batang Pinangga.
Seven-year old Gabriel was rescued from the garbage area. He lived in the middle of the dump, helping his mother collect scraps. Why inside the dump, we asked the mother, and she said it is much easier to collect ahead of the others. Gabriel joined the Batang Kalye (street child) Day last year with the Youth Ambassadors. When the group saw him again this time, the rescue was urgent, necessary, and the right thing to do.
Gabriel was severely malnourished. He had parasites inside his stomach. He was not in school instead he worked in the garbage. I asked him if he liked it in Batang Pinangga, he said yes, especially with all the fun with the Youth Ambassadors, “Here there is more play”, he added. But told me also that he missed his old place, “because there is bread and Pepsi there”. That was his prize for hard work.
There’s not much Pepsi and bread in Batang Pinangga but there is always food and care that is what we can give Gabriel. Without Pepsi I think this new kid would not mind at all.”