L.A.C.E.S. leverages the power of sport to
mentor at-risk children.
No one wants to live homeless, alone and afraid; but it’s not a choice for street children. Come walk in the shoes of an eleven-year old street child, facing his/her choices.
Your parents cannot afford to feed your family so they must force you to work on the street to find food. If you refuse you will face a beating.
Would you choose to risk being beaten at home, or escape the abuse and live on the street?
You don’t want to leave your siblings, so you stay. When you don’t earn enough money, your father abuses you, so you work the streets, but your family still does not have enough food. Due to the continued abuse you decide the street would be better; you have to learn how to find food, shelter and security, no matter the cost to your safety and self-worth.
You do not go home for fear of being beaten, and decide the street would be better. You have to learn how to find food, shelter and security, no matter the cost to your safety and self-worth.
You must find work to eat. You could find work now and then, maybe lifting 100-lb bags for ten hours to earn $1.00, or washing dishes all day to earn a meal.
Would you do manual labor or wash dishes to get something to eat?
You are small and thin, and there is little you can do; Carrying 100-pound bags leaves you tired and hungry, but you still do not have enough money to eat so you go to bed hungry.
You wash dishes at a small restaurant where you watch people eat all day long with the hope that you will get some scraps at the end of the day. Unfortunately, the restaurant has been very slow over the past few days and there has not been any work for you.
When you have not eaten for two days you will pretty much do anything, even if you don’t feel good about it. It’s more reliable to either prostitute yourself or steal.
Would you prostitute yourself or steal?
You choose prostitution for 90 cents a time, usually sleeping with as many as five men a night. If you can sleep with 8 men, you are lucky, as you will be able to eat both dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast.
You choose to steal. You are small but quick, and you steal a handful of rice which will barely feed you for a day, meaning tomorrow you will face the same problem. The next day you have to steal again but this time you get caught, and are severely beaten as a result.
At night you are always searching for a place to sleep. You can sleep with no shelter or try to fight another street child to sleep in a covered space.
Would you sleep under the stars or fight someone for shelter?
The first night you sleep in the open on the hard cold ground, but the second night someone beats you and takes the only extra clothes you had. Now you barely sleep for fear someone will hurt you.
You decide to fight someone for shelter but you are afraid to sleep for fear that someone will come to hurt you and steal the few belongings you have.
It’s hard to maintain relationships and trust the people around you, but you end up feeling alone quite often and look forward to seeing a friendly face.
Should you work on finding more friends or just trust yourself and be stronger alone?
You have found friends on the street. The hard part is that if your friends make enough money for the day to eat and you don’t you will have to watch them eat while your stomach aches with hunger. Their situations, like yours, makes you sad and causes you to lose hope for a better future.
At first you feel stronger alone, but it doesn’t last. You start to realize that you do not have anyone to help keep you safe especially at night when you are the most vulnerable to rape and people stealing from you.
Often street children are not able to attend school and if they do it is only because they have received a scholarship and can’t otherwise afford to skip work.
Will you attend school?
You have received a scholarship and are able to attend school. Children make fun of you because you cannot read or write, are older than them, and only have two shirts and shorts. Since you can’t work during the day to earn money, you have no choice but to steal or prostitute yourself at night. You start to feel you are unworthy of school, so you drop out.
You have decided not to go to school for fear that children will make fun of you because you cannot read or write, are older than them, and only have two shirts and shorts. If you do not attend school, then you are able to work at a restaurant instead of looking for men at night to sleep with. At least if you stay on the street nobody will make you feel unworthy because you are all in the same situation.