« Remembering | Rugby World Cup Blogs »

A Glimpse of Slick

12 October, 2003 11:32 PM

slick.jpgThe following is a journal entry (slightly edited) from a short term mission trip taken in January 2002 to the Philippines.

We called him 'Slick'.

We first noticed Slick hovering around the edge of the large group of children we were participating in a sports day with. There was something different about him. It was his big eyes and lopsided smile that first made me notice him. But as I watched him I began to realise that there was something else underneath that drew me to him.

There was a certain 'wildness' about little Slick. He was very dishevelled looking. Bare feet, dirty shorts and t-shirt, hair poking up everywhere. His face was covered in grime from the street and his legs had open sores on them. He must have been about 5 or 6 years old, but he had a hardened look to him.

He didn't stop moving. He paced backwards and forwards around the edge of the group like an animal that wasn't quite tame. He was drawn to the group, seeming to want the social contact, yet he would not join it. Every time someone approached he would scamper away....

His eyes fascinated me. They were a deep dark chocolate brown in colour, slightly bigger than most of the other children. But unlike those of the other kids they would not look directly into mine — or anyone elses for that matter.

The other children noticed him around the same time that we did and it was then that the teasing began. Some of the local kids seemed to know him and were quick to begin to taunt this easy target. It started with the throwing of a few words but soon progressed to the throwing of objects yet he continued to circle us.

Members of the team were quick to place themselves between the group and Slick and put a stop to the teasing. On turning to Slick and in attempting to make contact to see if he was ok it soon became evident that the teasing was probably the least of his worries.

At first he wouldn't let us near. Maybe it was because we were big and white — so different to everyone else of the street — or maybe it was because he didn't let anyone close. After a lot of smiling, coaxing and offering of food some trust was built and he let us close.

Slick did not talk. He made noises and gestures but no words formed in his mouth. He seemed to have some sort of Intellectual Disability — it wasn't severe, yet enough to make living life on the streets of Manilla a challenge for an adult, let alone a small child.

Over the course of the day different members of our team spent quite a bit of time with Slick. I'm not sure exactly where the name came from — it might have been after one of the women took him over to a tap and helped him to wash his face and hair (she slicked it back) and then gave him a nice new clean T-shirt to wear. We also shared food with him (I've never seen someone eat with such desperation) and gave him a small toy truck to play with. You should have seen his eyes light up when he realized the truck was for him.

One of our local hosts began to ask around some of the locals to find out where he was from. The story began to emerge that no one knew his name, but that he was a bit of a local identity. His mother had deserted him recently and he had begun to wander around the streets alone fending for himself as best he could.

By the end of the day we had grown quite fond of Slick. He would still only look at us out of the corner of his eye, but he would now initiate closer contact and seemed to trust us. At different times during the day bigger kids had attempted to tease him, but team members intervened and by the end of the day had encouraged the some of the other children to even happily include him in a game they were playing with a ball. The progress was small but significant. The change in Slick even in one day was remarkable — it was as though he was in heaven — he was literally beaming.

The end of the sports day came and we become tired. We said our farewells to the children and to Slick. One of the local workers said they would attempt to find him some help in the following days. We all piled into the mini van and drove off back to our base leaving our team leader, Glenda, to pack up and follow us shortly after.

Back at the base we relaxed after our exhausting day of sport and began to eat dinner. Glenda arrived as we ate and it was obvious that she was upset.

Glenda told us that minutes after we had left a group of older children had descended upon little Slick. They took his toy truck, stripped him of his new T-shirt and began to beat him with punches and kicks. Within seconds everything Slick had been given was taken from him. Glenda and others intervened, but Slick was not having anything more to do with anyone and ran off alone into the streets.

People can be so cruel. Slick is at the bottom of the heap and yet for some reason there's something inside people that just have to push him lower down. What can we do — it seems hopeless — I have no answers or solutions.

All I know is that I worship a God has compassion for the poor, the widow and the orphan. Today I saw the orphan up close — the one God's heart breaks for — a confused, dirty, simple, beaten up little boy who thirsts for love.



wow, I had a similar experience in Thialand in one of the slums I visited. Your story made me ball my eyes out remembering him. What I discovered is that God often allows us to see a little bit of how he views the world and feels and that while that can be painful it is also supposed to motivate us to make a difference.

I guess this is what being the Body of Christ is all about.

Sharon » 13 October, 2003 9:28 AM

I wonder if the local worker ever went back to help Slick?

I hope so.

jerseycityjoan » 13 October, 2003 8:37 PM

Thanks for the comments - what happened to Slick?

Some of the team saw Slick on the street the following day. Again he was being taunted by bigger kids.

One of the local workers did search for Slick - the latest we heard a few weeks after returning home to Australia was that they were trying to get him accepted into a program for street kids in Manilla. The problem was that there were very few services that could cope with children with disabilities. I will be catching up with some of the local workers as they visit Melbourne in a few weeks and will ask after Slick.

Darren Rowse » 13 October, 2003 9:39 PM

Email this entry to a friend:

Friend's email:

Your email:

Message (optional):