The boy came running into the house, breathing so hard he was nearly breathless, his face flushed.
I asked him, “Why are you out of breath?”
“I was running,” he said.
Curious, I asked, “Why were you running?”
“Because I thought I was late. When I am talking on the phone, I lose track of time.”
As part of the care we provide to trafficked youth in the U.K., we implement a “Reduction Program” which means we introduce more and more independence while at the same time, ensuring that the youth is safe and knows how to protect themselves. This particular boy knew he had a certain amount of time to be out on his own, and clearly, it was important to him that he stay within his plan.
That was a gift to me.
That very simple exchange really warmed my heart and as I tried to understand why, it sent me down a trail of memories. Fearful, untrusting, angry, confused: this was his state of being when he initially came to us. The last thing he wanted was a plan wrapped around his life. In reality, he was free to leave the Thousand Miles Home, though through much conversation with us he understood that his safety would be in jeopardy if he did.
What I see now in this young person is very different.
Knowing he is loved, cared for, a person whose dreams are important to us, he wants to give back in ways that he can. Honoring the plans and agreements he knows are in place is one of those ways, because he understands that those plans were created with his best interests in mind.
At Love146, we want to provide such quality care that the children we work with will have this kind of response. It has to do with commitment to the well-being of the person and to ensuring best practices, but equally to providing the love, respect, and sense of belonging that enables youth to flourish.
Snapshots from the Love146 Thousand Miles Home: