I know someone who is a psychologist, who has worked a long time with gang members in prisons, so he has some experience in what I am about to tell you.
He gave me some information that made me my blood run faster, wanting other Guatemalans to listen to what I was listening to. This person told me:
“The time and money you invest to restore one gang member – would be the resources to help 30 or 35 children and prevent them fro becoming gang members.”
This does not mean that it isn’t worth it to invest in the gang members, but more so drives the point home that it is so very important to pour ourselves out into the kids.
After you have worked with restoration of the gang member, just 2% become dignified people. Only 50% become incorporated into society. But the responsibility is still on the gang members as to whether or not they will stay with the gangs or choose to change their lives.
At a meeting where there were some gang leaders and some parents, there was conversation, questions … tension, tears. Some parents asked “why are you recruiting our children?” One of them responded with authority and respect: “we do not recruit your children, only the ones that you have abandoned.”
The children who have left their homes because of some type of abuse or ones who have been kicked out say, “We either live in the streets or die in the streets but we’ll never return home.”
This is yet another example of the importance of investing time, energy, and finances into these children. Without love, respect, care they will become like so many others before them: gang members, those who are just looking to get by, those who are looking to belong.
These little ones need so much love.
-Written by Tita Evertsz, translated by Rebecca Gant