Monday, June 13, 2011

What A Day

Yesterday I went to Kensington, in the city of Philadelphia, for a block party. There is a church down there that reaches out to their community every year by throwing a block party for the people. Our church sent a bunch of people to help out. Now, for those of you who don't know Philly, Kensington is one of the worst sections of town. It was definitely like being in a different world. Trash blows in the streets (as it does in a lot of Philly, honestly). Many people have bars on their windows and doors. A lot of people have boarded up their windows entirely. The giant Dollar General looks closed because all the windows are covered in corrugated metal. The only sign that it is open is the small open door on the corner. We walked past a huge, very run down warehouse building, and heard someone inside jamming on their drums. There was graffiti on peoples windows, fences, etc.. It was pretty much your stereotypical scary ghetto. When we arrived, the street was blocked off and they had set up carnival games and several inflatable play areas. We were briefed on our responsibilities and how to behave. The highlights? Don't be stupid! Don't wander off the street. Don't leave anything unsupervised that isn't nailed down, because they 'guaranteed' it would be stolen. (My shirt disappeared...not off my back, but right by us. I had tied a balloon to the bag my shirt was in, and I don't know if they took it for the balloon, or the shirt?) Even the church bathroom cabinets were padlocked. Between visits to the bathroom, someone must have stolen the soap dispenser because it went missing. And my favorite instruction? We must watch the back of the inflatables at all times, because people like to a) puncture them, b) turn the generator off just to see them deflate, and c) untether them. I was stationed at the bounce house and mostly I got to be with the kids and keep them in line. We were specifically told to enforce the 'no cutting' rule, which was hard because there were some sneaky kids who wanted to be in the front of the line. I really enjoyed the kids, and there were a few I wanted to bring home. Behind us someone had brought out two huge speakers and there was a Puerto Rican dance party going on! I don't know how to say this politically correctly, but white people just do not have the rhythm that people of certain ethnic demographics do. Even the littlest children have got moves I could never dream of. Another person rolled their grill out in the street and had a cookout right in the midst of it all. While I was there, I saw some sad stuff, particularly a little boy who had sores all over his arms and face that looked untreated (to my untrained eye). He was also pretty dirty, and I felt really bad for him. Too many people let their small children roam about unsupervised, or supervised by a slightly older sibling or cousin. There was a little 4 year old boy that was lost and it took almost an hour for someone to come looking for him. I had a girl who came up to me and she had lost her little brother. I also saw a lady with some pretty nasty knife scars across her back and arm. Even though I felt pretty out of place, the kids still smiled like children do. They shook their little booties to Beyonce for me, and showed me their tricks. One little kid (maybe 5) was doing back flips down the street. I am sure if I knew half of their stories I would be heartbroken. I just hope that yesterday those kids felt loved and cared for, and that they will want to come back for more.

PS. Sorry for the lack of pictures. I really, really wanted to bring my camera but it was one of those things where I would either have to hold onto it for 7 hours straight, or have it stolen. I felt like I was missing an appendage or something, not having it with me.

PPS! I spotted a Tumbleweave!!!!!! If I wasn't an out-of-place-white-girl I would have done a happy dance right there in the street, just because it was so hilarious, but I didn't. I had only heard of them before, but now I've seen one with my own eyes.

1 comment:

Linda Dashiell said...

Wow! I sure live a sheltered life!!!