August 4, 2008

Journey for Change Notebook: August 4, 2008

Posted: 04:49 PM ET

Editor’s Note: Thirty kids, ages 12 to 16, from Bushwick, Brooklyn, were chosen to participate in “Journey for Change,” a youth empowerment program created by Malaak Compton-Rock. We’ve asked them to share their experiences by blogging about the changes they expect to bring about in others and hope to see in themselves.

"Hello my name is Tasheema Walker and I’m going to the 9th grade in high school. My birthday is November 20.  In life some of the things I like to do is stepping, dancing, singing, and playing basketball. I also have a very great family who I love and adore for the rest of my life. But when I was a little girl I used to attend the Salvation Army Day Care Center which I really loved a lot because they were like my second family. So then my grandparents decided that my sister Vandesha and I should go to the Salvation Army Camp which we actually have been attending since we were about five years old. But this year they told me and Vandesha that we were no longer campers there but we are junior counselors and when we were told that my heart lit up like a Christmas tree on Christmas.   “

- Tasheema Walker, 13

"Today was a great day!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I couldn’t believe my eyes in Soweto.  First we went to the Salvation Army orphanage. They take care of children from the ages of 0 months to 3 years. All these children were abandoned in all types of places you can imagine: garbage bins, toilets, in abandoned homes, and so much more. I had to cry when I heard all of this. It makes you think about how much of a great life you have. There was a little boy named Blessing and to me he is a blessing. Not was a blessing but is a blessing. We played with them and laughed with them and it was a joyful experience. I love these kids so much. I just wanted to take them home with me. After I had to leave, but that wasn’t the end. We went to a granny headed home and that is where the real drama begins.When I got to the house and looked inside it was dirty, musty, and had a little room. There was one twin bed and six people in the house. There are four boys, the granny, and her daughter.  Two boys are 17.  One is eight and the other is 18 months."

- Imaan Williams, 12  

"Today was so emotional.  I mean when we went to the orphanage to see the infants – when I first went in – I didn’t know what was going on.  When I saw my friends Mariah and Zuliana crying I started to realize what was really going on with these infants.  It kind of made me soft inside. When it was over and time for me to go I kind of wanted to go and adopt all of those infants.  Kids this young shouldn’t be going through what they are going through without knowing their actual parents.  That’s kind of hurtful. After we left the orphanage we went to a granny led home which wasn’t in good shape. Her furniture was all ripped up and she was taking care of two kids plus herself which was a hand full being that she needed a lot of things she can’t get.  After, we went to a child led home which was kind of better in some ways but not in other ways. Here a 21 year old girl was taking care of two other teenagers. They needed certain things like food and clothing. This is all for now.  See you later."

- Benjamin Goode, 11

"Today we were split up into six different groups.  We each went into different households here in South Africa.  My group went to two households — one led by a granny and another one led by a child.  The child led house was led by a girl that was only twenty one.  She has been taking care of this household since she was only sixteen.  She has been doing this for about five years now.  I’m not even in the situation and I was feeling sad.  What I noticed is that they kept their heads up and they stayed positive.  There are three children living in this household.  They only have one bedroom and mattress.  The granny led household was more compact.  There were nine grandchildren living in the household. There was only one bedroom and one mattress.  All of the covers were ripped up and had many, many stains.  The grandmother and the oldest grandchild had to sleep on two chairs.  The granny never has any spare time on her hands.  I think this is crazy.  That’s why tomorrow morning my group is going shopping.  I will keep you updated on everything that is going on here in South Africa — also about the households and the people in them. Have a nice day."

- Albert Brunn III, 12

Filed under: Journey for Change • Soledad OBrien

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Ms Sylvester   August 7th, 2008 6:30 am ET

Hi to all the Journey for Change children especially Zuliana Mariah Queen Lotoya Benjamin Shawn from the after-school program. Hope all is well and you are having fun. Enjoy the experience because it's once in a life time. Love you always.

cirilo nunez   August 7th, 2008 11:31 am ET

Great program. I'm glad my son is a program participant. I am convinced that he along with the other participants and mentor will never be the same after this empowering experience. Bravo to Journey for Change, The Salvation Army Bushwick Corps, Angel Rock Project and Malaak Compton-Rock and CNN. I am grateful for the opportunity you have granted my son. Based on the phone conversations I have had with my son (Antonio Nunez) he is not only benefiting from the immediate reward from his labor, but he is also bursting with excitement over the impact he is having on those he is serving.

A proud parent
Cirilo Nunez

Albert Brunn Jr.   August 9th, 2008 11:24 am ET

Hello Albert. Hello All JFC mentees, mentors and administration.

I hope all is going well. I know this is a life changing experience. Try to take in as much as you can. God bless you! Think positively.

Albert Brunn Jr.

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