A Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes


Two fundamental tasks at a Childhelp Village are to help the children maintain their dignity and to keep them safe. I learned first hand the value of ‘dignity’ during an incident that involved two children ‘running away.’

As I came out of the chapel one Summer morning I saw two boys running across the field toward the woods. Another staff person was in hot pursuit. You learn to join the run in that type of situation. So I followed them across the field and down into the woods.  The boys crossed the fence that separated the field from the woods and headed into a ravine.  There was no trail so we were picking our way through the brush. The other staff person had caught up with one of the young men and was talking with him in the field.  I decided to just go with the other young man- staying within sight.  We walked through briars and jumped across the creek, several times.  He was not very happy that I was tagging along but as we worked our way through the underbrush I was able to begin to engage the young man in conversation.  Another child had made him mad in the group home so he decided to run. He said “that’s what I do when I’m mad, I run.”

We walked all the way down the creek until we reached the road, crossed the bridge and started up danger hill.  By that time the child’s anger had cooled.  I asked if he was ready to go to school.  He said ‘yes’.   We walked up the hill to the school and into his class.  The child just needed some space.  By showing him the respect of allowing him to calm down on his own terms he was able to practice another quality that we encourage- “Self-control” and make a wise decision about the next part of his morning.  That whole experience reminded me of the value that ‘respect’ or trying to ‘walk in the other person’s shoes’ can have as we try to make the Village a place where the children feel they are safe and among people who care for them.  

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