Mtuseni finished his first week of orientation at City Year, and he says every day gets better. (He’s the #ecstatic one in front of the logo above.) I’m so thrilled for him — just being out of the shack and doing things and meeting new people is always great for his spirit. But getting focused training and new knowledge is something he laps up like a thirsty mutt. He’s always been laser-focused on self-improvement. And tomorrow he heads for a four-day training camp in Hekpoort, just outside the Magaliesburg mountains. I have to say, City Year really does things right. You can follow them on Twitter and Facebook for updates. You can see the kids are excited and being honored.
So Mtuseni is settled through November, when he graduates from City Year. The next months will still bring challenges with transportation and money, but he’s going to grow so much and come away with great experience, assets, and connections.It’s a weight off my back for now. His lack of progress the past year has been unsettling — though not entirely unexpected given South Africa’s economy.
But the other day Mtuseni posted a WhatsApp pic of his sister Bongeka and brother Musa. I haven’t seen them since my visit three years ago. They are beautiful, sweet kids — and in the back of my mind I’ve always thought about what and when I might do something to help them. Their situation is bad. Poor farm schooling. Little food and no utilities at home. A shack-tavern next door in the settlement that is shockingly loud. There are so many risk factors facing these two kids, but they’re not statistics. They’re great, polite, well-spoken kids who call me Mr. Mike on the phone, who cherished the cards and gifts I sent back with Mtuseni after his visit last July.
I’m still climbing out of debt from my long-distance son’s college and trip expenses … but in the future, as soon as I can, I want to help Bongeka and Musa. Because if Mtuseni calls me dad, then his sister and brother are in some way my kids too.
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