I was in a rush to get to a meeting at Church when I saw him. He looked as big as my 5 year old grandson, but I assumed he was older but simply smaller. Though it was winter he was barefoot, very dirty, and wore tattered clothes. In his hand was a dirty rag with which he was trying to wipe the windshields of cars stopped at the traffic light.
Tonight business was slow and he looked lost, forlorn and cold.
As I rushed passed him rushing to get to my meeting on time I felt a flood of emotions and was very disturbed. So I phoned Rebecca to tell her about it. Her first question was “…well, what did you do?”. When I admitted I hadn’t done anything she said “…well, go back to him, get his name and see how you can help him!”. I wanted to tell her I was now nearer to Church than to where I’d seen him, but I knew this was a lame excuse and that I’d have to go back…
I went back, he told me his name was Maged and that his mother was dead and his father had abandoned him and his siblings, and that they were living with their aunt and uncle. “Where do you live?” I asked. “There” he replied pointing to a dark grassy area between two sides of the divided road. I gave him what he would have considered a large amount of money and told him to buy himself some shoes and some food. He seemed grateful but not prepared to do so right now.
On my way back from Church I noticed that Maged was no longer at that street corner. I hoped he had at least bought some food for himself (which he would have undoubtedly shared with his siblings), I also noticed some people bundled in blankets under a tree in a dark part of that grassy area (I assumed that was his extended family and that he may be cuddled with them in one of the blankets!).
I’ve looked out for Maged since then but haven’t seen him. Yesterday was Egypt’s National Day for Street Children. The theme of this year’s day is pointedly “Street children … our children”.
Yesterday, as I thought of Egypt’s street children, Maged’s lonely lost face haunted me!