“No one has ever become poor by giving”
This week I read the tragic story of Sam Connor, a Year 9 student for whom life was so unbearable that on Monday afternoon he reportedly handed his bag and his phone to his fellow students and lay down in front of an oncoming train to end his life.
This is absolutely heartbreaking, that any child should feel so hopeless not only to take their own life but to do so in such a public statement. As a parent of a boy of the same age I can only imagine the incomprehensible grief his parents are going through.
Children like Sam are the extreme examples of why WAM exists, we hope that in some small way we can make enough of a difference to change someone’s trajectory from destruction, despair and yes occasionally death. But it’s a very lonely journey sometimes that we walk. Children and young people who are vulnerable and at risk don’t always lend themselves to fit with our cultural values of those who deserve help. They can act out, cause irritation and annoyance to communities and their educational institutions. Often what you see on the surface (e.g. disruption, defiance, challenging behaviour) doesn’t seem to suggest someone who is actually desperately crying out for help in the only way they know how.
We have many people and organisations who have supported us financially in the past and currently for which we are truly grateful. But I will confess to feeling a stab of pain each time we are rejected by funders. Not because someone won’t give us money but because the result is that there stands another child that we still can’t help..
In front of us at WAM on a daily basis are the faces of children and young people who have had a reverse head start in life and through no fault of their own are in need of support that the state is just not providing. We can argue about responsibilities and we should challenge and push the Government to do more but the reality is that for now we have an ever growing gap to fill and the divide between the haves and the have nots in our society seems to be getting wider.
The word “charity” comes from the Greek word “agape”. Agape means goodwill, benevolence, generosity, love and its source is God. The implication of this is something given freely, without agenda or condition and only given because we ourselves are able to recognise what we have received. Whether you believe in a God or not, agape is a recognition that we personally are not the source of all we have or can offer. A realisation that transforms our attitude to charity. We do not give out of what we perceive to have earned but out of what we understand we have been blessed to receive.