The interviewer found herself unexpectedly moved emotionally by this young woman's story and burst into tears. Here's what happened next: "Mbali held my face and said, 'Don’t cry!' She hugged me. How absurd can life be? A 16-year-old, H.I.V.-positive orphan was comforting me while I wept. It was a strange way to carry on an interview, but that’s what we did. I asked her what she needed most. 'Someplace safe,' she said. 'Someplace to be a girl. Someplace where I won’t have to have sex with men anymore.'
What a strange world. The rebellious and angry youth in the courtroom today seem to have cavalierly thrown away the places that would look like a heavenly haven to Mbali and the many others in her awful situation. She and others like her would treasure the opportunity to live a life with parental support and restrictions.
Are the homes that those youth in the juvenile court today come from perfect and lovingly supportive of the challenges of growing up? I seriously doubt it, mainly because I have yet to see that perfect home and family.
I know that growing up is hard. I wish we all did it better than we do. A simple moment of sadness here--there's just got to be a better way.
So I am troubled as I observe and read about these things. I have no quick and easy solutions. I do know, though, that the people, whether youth or more mature in age, who have actively served in areas of extreme underprivilege tend to receive life with considerably more gratefulness and happiness than those who just take what is given and then demand more. I just want to be one of the grateful ones.