You won’t be
surprised when I tell you that the young boys here don’t always like washing their laundry. At the home, we all wash our clothes by hand,
and the children are responsible for caring after their own possessions. Often,
it is a struggle to convince one of them that instead of playing soccer they
actually need to be washing their laundry first. The problem is
motivation. The young boys,
especially 5 to 8 year-olds really don’t care that much about wearing clean clothes. In fact, they don’t care
very much about being clean in general, let alone having clean clothes.
But then there is Henrry.
That’s not a typo by the way. His
name is spelled with a double R and if you can roll your R’s that’s how you pronounce it.
Henrry (8 years-old) likes washing, folding, organizing, and most of all
wearing a large selection of clothes. It’s great for me and the rest of the
Padrinos (the men and women who care for our children like parents) because not
only is he an example, but a motivator.
We will always offer to help, and occasionally actually wash some of the
younger boys’ clothes. But with more than 100 kids, and most of them
needing school uniforms and another set of clothes washed daily, the kids need
to do most of the work themselves. That
being said, Henrry probably helps more than anybody. The following conversation has played out
many times, I have translated it for your convenience.
Padrino: Hey (any one of 15
boys that might not want to wash on any given day), let’s
go wash your laundry.
Boy: No! (sometimes “Nombre!”, a clever combination of no and hombre, Spanish for
no man) I’m going to play soccer.
Padrino: Alright, but if you
don’t wash your clothes Henrry will, and then he gets to wear them
until you want to wash them yourself.
Boy: Fine! I'll wash them!
Henrry already has all of my clothes!
(Exit stage right grumbling angry under breath.)
Now I may have given you an incorrect
image of Henrry. If you are picturing an
ascot wearing, sensitive young boy you are mistaken. Simply put, he is a man of many activities
and he likes to be appropriately dressed for each. He is a fiercely competitive soccer player,
and probably cries less than any of the other young boys. At the peak of Henrry’s
one-man fashion season he was wearing as many as five outfits on a
Saturday. When you picture the following
images, use a 40-pound peanut for the body, toothpicks for arms and legs, dark
brown skin, with a face suggesting oriental descent.
He would wake up and go to breakfast in his
matching pajama top and bottom, the firetruck pattern was the envy of the whole
2) After breakfast we do chores from 9-11 AM. At this time he would go with something
rugged and practical. Blue cut-off jeans
shorts and a white Underarmour shirt to which he cut off the sleeves, with his
black puma go anywhere and do anything shoes.
3) Free time after chores he will usually play
soccer. Highlighter yellow Adidas cleats
with black socks that reach over the knees, a soccer jersey from a random US
middle school team, and soccer shorts.
4) Change for dinner (casual). Blue jeans, Chuck E. Cheese tie-dye tee
5) Movie in the cafeteria. You never know who might show up for this
kind of event so you have just GOT to change after dinner. For this he might go khakis, with a white
polo shirt with a large blue chest stripe (tucked in) that will fit him better
when he gains another 25 pounds.
And that ladies and gentleman is how
you become the best-dressed kid at Amigos de Jesus. In his locker hangs the only mirror in the
room. It has a pink plastic frame and
was probably paired with a Barbie or American Girl Doll purchased years
ago. He also has hair gel, which he
applies liberally for school days, and a collection of a few hundred stickers
all of which he takes home from school on his well-completed homework
He is very highly organized, if I knew
more about OCD, I imagine he is showing early signs of it. Henrry is an awesome kid, who dresses the
part, and when I leave here in a couple of months it will be hard to say
goodbye to him.
- Patrick Kenny, volunteer 2013-2014