Last Friday, I was invited to the graduation of a salon/barber course upstairs in Casa Domingo by Andrea Malet, an educator at Casa Domingo. I mentioned a little about the salon in a post a month or so ago. I knew three of the girls doing the course from Casa Alianza, one much less than the other two, but it was a nice surprise to see the girls using their skills and initiative to improve their skills and knowledge by working and training in a salon.
One of the girls, Scarlett, I used to talk to often at Casa Alianza. She was quite a tomboy, dazzling boys on the football court with her Ronaldinho-esque skills, and then at moment’s turn, become quite feminine again and comb her friend’s hair in a delicate and careful manner. She told me about some of her past, especially in regards to her father’s cruelty, but without going into details; the silence only screams how grave the situation was for her. When someone blocks off the details in such an intense way, you don’t ask questions, not that I ever pressed her at all hard. She always had friends and was popular, but a part of her kept herself to herself. She seemed more responsible, honest and trustworthy than other kids at Casa Alianza (not that the kids were untrustworthy, by the way), but she was more mature and co-operative. I would let her listen to my ipod, and I knew she wouldn’t press any buttons that she wouldn’t understand (I remember saying to one lad that he could use my camera ONLY to take photos. He decided to ignore my order, try to look at my past photos and manage to delete half my memory card. An honest mistake by a teenager, yes, but it didn’t stop me wanting to strangle him). Unfortunately she was a wee bit late for the graduation and missed it. She is now in a project called Casa Amber and doing okay, although I didn’t get to speak much with her this time around. Something was telling me that not everything is going swimmingly at the minute. She seemed a lot more tense than before. When she finally appeared, she was with a boy and chatting privately only with Andrea.
The other girl, Sara, I know a little less. She was always in and out of Casa Alianza when I was volunteering. She was always more playful and cheeky, dancing a bit, well risque, at special events organised by Casa Alianza. She always laughed with a loud cackle, with warm yet mischievous grin, and gave you a little hug when you walked into Casa Alianza. She had a fella who I’ve forgotten the name of right now. He too was very friendly, one of the first lads to introduce himself when I first entered Casa Alianza, as a matter of fact. He used to tell me what it felt like to live in a neighbourhood full of gangs where you lost friends everyday, and with the constant threat of losing your life and being shot at or picked on for no reason. He declined when I asked to interview him, as he felt it might put him in danger. He always spoke with a smile, even when talking about the darkest things and traumatic experiences. His way of dealing with things, I suppose. I never asked if they were still girlfriend and boyfriend. Sara walks with a limp, caused by something she chooses not to talk about. Again, I’ve never pressed her. People know how to build walls to cut off the past. Someone else gave me a rough synopsis of what she’s been through. You wonder why people can be so cruel. No need to repeat it here. I’m just proud she wears her heart on her sleeve, along with a smile, which is always admirable. It’s always so easy to give in to anger in these situations. She managed to get there on time. She too works with Casa Amber; a project and home run by a North American for older street youths.
To be continued.