Seeking Solutions

I think I should give you an idea of who the new LOCAL lads are who attend our school now. They are new this school year, and I’m sure over the course of the year I (we) will get to know them much better.

Six of the new lads are attending due to the Promise of Hope Scholarship Fund, and the others are not, but if they or their family in any way struggle to meet any of the tuition or have other financial problems, they have the help of the scholarship fund to fall back on.

NEW LOCAL LADS – 2012–13 School Year:

7th Form TRANSIT – Nico and Kees

7th Form BOARDING – Daan

8th Form TRANSIT – Theo, Davy, Bert

8th Form BOARDING – Sander, Vance

9th Form BOARDING – Gerrit

USING SCHOLARSHIP FUND – Theo, Kees, Daan, Sander, Vance, Gerrit

Hopefully this gives you a better idea of who these lads are, so when I mention them, you can basically associate who is who.

***************

Saturday

“Let’s just get five whistles, Ben.” I said, taking one more from the box at the Sporting Store. “I’d rather be safe than sorry if someone also wants one and I don’t have an extra.”

“It will surely sound like a circus tent if they all blow at the same time, Love.” Ben joked, causing us both to laugh. “But it can only help.”

“My guess is the other 8th Formers, Davy and Bert won’t want one.” I said, walking to the counter to pay the clerk.

“Your guess is probably right, Amar, but I still think it is a brilliant idea!”

“I’m just seeking solutions, Ben, and for now, it’s an inexpensive warning system for the thugs!” I winked at Ben as we left the store.

This was the day Ben and I teamed up to pay a visit to the neighbourhood where Theo and Kees lived. It would be a challenge for us, but I was bound and determined to seek as many solutions as possible and find the one that suited our two new sceptical lads the best.

It was also a grand help having Ben by my side, as it is always heart-warming to me to have my main protector with me.

According to Theo, this was also the same neighbourhood those two thugs lived in, since it was in the same proximity of their school (also Theo and Kees’ old school, as well as Carel’s).

The other benefit was that Ben and I had asked Carel to meet up with us, since he too grew up in this same neighbourhood and well knew his way around – as well as knowing the “ropes” and how to deal with the people who lived here.

To me, it was like Déjà vu all over again since I had visited Carel last year, but I know to Carel, it was both remembering his childhood growing up here, and at the same time, feeling a bit of nostalgia coming back. He was even pleased that some of the tenants and folk mingling and lounging about recognized him! (Actually, Ben and I were well glad also!)

We assumed Kees was visiting, or had even spent the night, since there was a small, rusted bike parked at the lower base of the damp concrete steps leading down to Theo’s home.

It turned out; Theo lived in a basement apartment. A tiny hole in the ground with only one bedroom – a series of nailed-together boards and rough plywood haphazardly put together for a bit of privacy for Theo’s father.

Theo’s “area” was a ragged couch with a rumpled sheet, a blanket, and two stained, dirty pillows in the opposite corner next to the open kitchenette. It was well obvious the couch was a shared bed with Kees stayed the night. A clothesline hanging from two walls was his only privacy when he pulled the blanket closed. He had a small table at the end of the couch where it was obvious he did his studies, and a tiny bookshelf with a handful of books – two Harry Potter books, a Bible, and pleasing to me, a set of four worn books by Charles Dickens!

Kees was indeed there, but we were even MORE pleased that the two lads were quite glad to see the three of us, and welcomed us with hugs and smiles!

Theo and Kees were the only ones in the dark, dingy apartment when we arrived, and the two were busy frying and grilling toast and a slice of smoked fish with one scrambled egg. The pungent smell stung our nostrils as we walked in, but it mellowed a bit as Kees brewed a small metal pot of thick, black coffee on the two burner stove.

“My father works night shifts, and he will be home and expecting his breakfast.” Theo explained. “He’ll eat quickly, sip his bitter coffee and then move on to his bedroom and sleep most of the day.”

Kees smiled and nodded in agreement to the routine of his chum’s father. “But he will give us both a hug and thank us for his breakfast before he does.” Kees shrugged, blushing.

********

As the breakfast warmed in the small oven below the stovetop, I explained as best I could what I felt would be the outcome of the decision of the Dean Master and the School Board as to the fate of whether Theo and Kees would be boarding lads, or remain transit lads.

They seemed to accept either, although I think Kees was more disappointed that he possibly wouldn’t get the chance to indulge in the life of a boarding lad – with a nice bed, showers, and other fine amenities and all.

“This is not saying things could change in the future, and I promise not to give up hope if you two don’t give up hope, OK?” I told them.

“Trust Amar,” Ben put in. “Between him and Carel and I, and probably others coming on board, things will work out in the end for the better.”

“Carel has agreed to take the tram here to your place on Monday mornings after his weekend staying at his house, so he can ride with you two to school.” I explained. “No more walking for now. That’s why you both have tram passes, and it will help you in avoiding another encounter with those two thugs again.”

I handed them both a whistle with a chain to put around their necks, and I got quite the quizzical look!

“What are these for?” Theo asked, intrigued as Kees blew his and giggled.

“If you see those thugs coming toward you before you can make it to the tram,” Carel explained. “Blow the whistles! That will startle them and also draw attention. Trust me, Robin and Pieter used the whistles Amar got them, and it worked like a charm!”

Both Theo and Kees smirked widely and laughed after blowing their whistles.

“I’m going to talk to some of the other local lads who are attending our school and see if they might have any ideas or suggestions.” I said.

Theo suddenly seemed to be becoming a bit sceptical and his comment proved that. “We DON’T need a babysitter, Amar!” He grunted.

“But I don’t want to get beat up again, Theo.” Kees whispered painfully. “And you could get hurt again.”

Theo sighed in calm defeat just as the door clicked open and there stood a burly, greasy, man with a worn tote that he dropped on the floor. He looked at Ben, Carel, and I before he looked at Kees and then his son for an explanation.

As Theo explained in Dutch, the man washed his hands at the grimy sink while Kees proceeded to take the warm plate from the oven with a towel wrapped around his hand, and set it at the table. Then Kees handed the man the towel as he dried his hands, sat down at the table, and proceeded to gulp down the fish, egg, and toast, sipping cautiously at the steaming black coffee, and belching quietly a few times.

When he finished his plate of food, he almost daintily dabbed at his mouth with the towel before sipping more coffee and looking at the lot of Ben, Carel, and I.

“Dank u voor het kijken uit voor Theo en Kees om ze in ew fijne school.” (Thank you for looking out for Theo and Kees and getting them into your fine school.) The man said, looking directly at me and smiling. “Ze zijn goed jongens. (They are good boys.)

“U bent van harte welkom. Ja, ze zijn goed jongens.” (You are very welcome. Yes, they are good boys.) I nodded.

With that, his smile grew wider as he gulped down the rest of his coffee, pushed his chair out and stood before he reached out and shook Ben and Carel’s hand. Then, to my surprise, he gave me a hug and a clap on the back before he hugged his son and Kees, kissing them twice on each cheek.

Without another word, he disappeared through the makeshift opening in his “plywood bedroom” and even before Ben, Carel, and I left a bit later, he was snoring like a sluggish locomotive rumbling up a steep incline.

*********

Monday (today)

The Dean Master gave me the word first thing this morning that the School Board of Directors at this point in time felt it not necessary for Theo and Kees to switch from transit to boarding.

I accepted their decision without debate, knowing I was already seeking other solutions.

This entry was posted in Miscellaneous, My Chums, Uncategorized, Weekends. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Seeking Solutions

  1. JerBear says:

    Brilliant idea to use whistles! I’m kicking myself as I should have mentioned whistles. You see, I used to run a program that reached out to gay men & youth as well as hunters (male prostitutes). We had a problem with gay bashing so we started giving out whistles as part of a campaign that merged physical safety with sexual safety. It does work as people looking to do harm don’t want to draw attention. So great idea!

    It was also wise to have Carel meet them and ride the tram. You might want to casually mention to the Dean Master the appalling living conditions at Theo’s home. Should there be a need to revisit the boarding issue, knowing where and how they lived might help the case. It sounds like Theo has had to grow up fast and take on chores that would have been done by his mother. The world can be so unfair sometimes!

    I hope you’re doing okay – it must be a challenge to keep up with school when you are fatigued. I had that problem at work just before I left on disability retirement. There is a non-narcotic medication I was prescribed which lessens fatigue and keeps you awake. It worked for a while but in the end I wasn’t able to work while in pain. In any case, as you have reminded us, you have very competent physicians and they will do their best for you.

    So I wish for you strength and energy to do all the amazing tasks you accomplish both in school and at home. You are part angel and an angel needs it’s wings in good working order!

    Hugs of Hope,
    JerBear

    AMAR SAYS: As I said, I used whistles a while back with Robin and Pieter to protect them from Saal and his thugs.

    And the living conditions at Theo’s home aren’t THAT bad. They seem to be a happy family. Actually, I feel Carel’s previous living conditions were far worse. :-|

  2. Roland says:

    The whistles are indeed a very good idea. May be Carel is able to think about other solutions also. He knows the enviroment by own experience. I’m asking myself if a whole school and neighberhood could become proud that two of them got the chance to go to your school as Theos father is proud about the chance his son got.
    Is there any possibility to improve something for the local youth or anything of cooperation between the schools?

    Roland

    AMAR SAYS: Carel is a boarder and will help on Monday mornings after being at home for the weekends. I am working on other solutions as well.

  3. Ringvejen says:

    Well I am presuming that you have not had too many problems from the chemo last Friday as it seems that your brain and heart have been working overtime on the situation with Theo and Kees.It is also good that Carel was able to join you on the visit to Theos home and his old neighbourhood as I am sure that he will be a great asset in helping especially as it seems that he is still remembered in the neighbourhood.It seems that Theos father is very appreciative of your help for the two boys and this was his shown by his response to you all.
    Regards and hugs
    Ringvejen

  4. Jeremy says:

    Amar,
    Your primary solution, the whistles, is a good idea and I’m sure you will come up with others that not only help Theo and Kees but also preserve Theo’s dignity. One of the most important things you learned is that there is a loving home with a father who is involved with the two boys and in fact relies upon them. So who is to say that this is not a good place for them to be.
    Peace,
    Jeremy

  5. Day says:

    I cried with this post, for many reasons. But most of all because, however hard life may be, it is clear that love is more powerful than anything. A family is there with Theo, Kees and a hard working and caring dad. It reminds me of Robin, his mom and his granny. A hard scrabble life, but one of love and caring.

    I knew you would come up with a protective solution; and well you did! Carel and Pieter, have paved the protective way. In essence, you have started a new mission. A supportive band of protective angels who can help Theo and Kees navigate any harsh waters to the land of learning — Only a whistle a way!

    No one should be punished for striving to make the most of their life, and when they are, we have a responsibility to step forward and support them. Today, you have done just that.

    How ever humble Theo and Kees’ home may be, it is still a family and still a home. And, however a challenging life they may lead, there is a caring band of angels to guide and protect them on their dream to a better day. Bless you all!

    Hugs, Health, Happiness, and Hope — Always Hope to a brighter day,
    Day

    AMAR SAYS: Thank you, Day. Theo’s home and family are really beautiful things – and his heart is happy with that. :)

  6. JerBear says:

    When I read this post yesterday I got caught up in your very evocative descriptions of Theo’s home. From my response you can tell my initial response was to be shocked at the very humble living conditions. As I read through the post a second time I could tell that you also conveyed that it was a loving home. When one stops and thinks about the millions of homes where people struggle just to survive it is a humbling thought. Indeed in my own life I have seen this first hand working in a refugee camp in Thailand years ago. What I witnessed then was what you were trying to convey; no matter how poor a person may be, if there is love in the home than children will make it through and grow to be loving adolescents and adults.

    Hugs,
    JerBear

    AMAR SAYS: ;)

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