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.)
1) He would wake up and go to breakfast in his matching pajama top and bottom, the firetruck pattern was the envy of the whole dorm.
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 shirt.
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 assignments.
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