Today I would like to introduce you to Woodlerx. Those of you who have been down and met him know that he goes by “Zalex”. Zalex is 11 years old and if you’re not careful, you can completely miss him. He is shy, quiet, and fades into the background unless you get to know him or make sure to seek him out. In fact, for the first year we were getting to know Zalex, we sometimes thought he was being disrespectful but we now know he is just painfully shy and needs to feel comfortable around you before he will open up at all. He is possibly one of our cutest kids living here, you’d just never know it!
First let me give you some background on Zalex’s family. Both of Woodlerxe’s parents are still alive and they both live close to the orphanage. His mom lives about 3 miles from Hope Rising. We have known her since we have been involved with the kids. She has 3 children we have been helping take care of: Milouse, Woodly, and Woodlerx. During the times we have known Zalex’s mom, we know that she has taken money from other American organizations under the pretext that she would help her children…she never did. She always used that money for herself. In the time that we have known her and her children, we have seen them go back and forth from living at the old place with Audancin to her house several times. They always came for meals and tutoring but often times would stay with their mom although I fear now that a lot of the time they were living alone and the mom wasn’t staying there. All 3 of the kids were always allowed to come and go as they please and were very clearly raising themselves. Their father is a known gang leader and drug user in the area and only ever showed up when he wanted something from us. In fact, we have seen Woodlerxe’s brother, Woodly (he also lives with us) come to the orphanage clearly under the influence. If we had left Woodlerxe with his family, he would have gotten involved in the same gang activities as his father. Both Woodly and Woodlerx live here with us. The decision for them to live here did not come easily but I think it is a decision that will end up changing their lives. In their situation, us bringing them here would be the equivalent of Department of Children and Families in the States removing children from an unfit home. The situation they were living in was not safe.
Now to the good part….Zalex! Although it would be hard for you to know it without really spending time with him, he is smart, athletic, funny, and kind. New things seem to come easily to him. I think I can count 2 times that he has gotten in trouble with us and both of those times he just hung his head and cried. He hates for us to be disappointed in him. I will never forget one day when the kids were still living in the guesthouse here at Hope Rising I walked into the boy’s room and Vageley was crying and so was Zalex. When I asked what was wrong, Vageley told me Zalex had pushed him. When I asked Zalex why he was crying he said because he didn’t mean to hurt Vageley and he was sad that he had hurt him. That is the kind of heart Zalex has. Just the idea of hurting someone else made him cry. One of our favorite things to do at night here is sit in with the kids and talk after our evening service and the kids love it too. We usually switch off every other night between boys and girls. This is one of the best times to be around Zalex. During these times, he will actually talk over the other boys to get our attention and can be very funny and every once in a while will even try to be the center of attention. I go in every night to tell him goodnight and that I love him and every night recently he asks “Jess when are you going to America?” When I answer, he tells me he is sad when we aren’t here. Every boy living here loves him….loving him comes very easily.
It is so hard to accurately describe each of the kids in these blogs. There is so much more I wish you could know about Zalex but it is hard to put him into words in a short blog! I am so thankful he is here with us and cannot wait to see what he becomes.