It’s 6am and the team begins to wake.
We shower up and begin making bacon, eggs, toast, fruit, coffee, juice and tea to fill our tummies for what is going to be a long day.
We wash up with toothpaste and put on our clean clothes. We jump into our new white rented van and head out to the Central Detroit Christian Community House.
It’s now 8:30am and we wait in the gym for the arrival of the children attending the camp. As we set the tables, one by one the children walk in. Some with the same clothes as yesterday, some hungry as they haven’t eaten breakfast. The smiles of the young ones fill the room, eager to play some basketball. Before we know it, there’s over 100 children just waiting to receive love, companionship and just another person to talk to or play with.
For many, we take eating breakfast, being with family and clean clothes for granted. Today, this experience has us in a pure state of gratitude.
After serving the children cereal for breakfast, our group heads out to the community garden where the children learn about the importance of nutrition and how to grow and harvest natural fruits and vegetables. Each child has the opportunity to water the lettuce, carrots, okra, beets and many other planted vegetables and herbs. They’re also taught how to properly harvest, and we watch them having a great time collecting goodies to be taken home to eat with their families.
After the community gardening project, we walk through the neighbourhood to the local park where the children enjoy fresh air and just being kids.
Detroit feels like a city that the world has forgotten. With a peak population of 1.8 million in the 1950’s, just over 670,000 people remain. As we walk from the community garden to the park, it feels as though we were walking among the charred bones of homes abandoned years ago. The silence of these once busy streets broke briefly as the laughter and sounds of the children playing cut through the quiet. I’m not sure that there is a way to truly prepare yourself for what you might experience on one of these trips. When we climbed into the van to drive down to Detroit, we had a two-dimensional vision of the city and the people that live here. We have all heard of the crushing poverty and urban decay so often used to describe this city, but while walking down the streets with these children, it was hard not to feel an energy that only children can bring to a space like this.
These children have faced hardships that many in America have been lucky enough to escape, and yet they remain so kind and happy. These children are the future of Detroit and more than anything else, they give us hope of a better future.
We are looking forward to what the rest of the week has in store for us and working more with these amazing children.
-Tony, Paul, & Tanya