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My wish for every child

Award-winning author and UNICEF Canada President and CEO David Morley joins over 200 authors around the world to share his wish #foreverychild as part of Tiny Stories:

I first met José when he was ten years old; with red hair and freckles, he would break into a happy infectious laugh at a moment’s notice.

For the two years before I met him at a project for homeless children in Central America he had been caring for his younger brother and sister on the streets – begging, scrounging, doing whatever it took to keep the family alive. 

He taught me how to pick pockets.

We would be sitting down doing some extra homework, or he’d be working on his art, and suddenly my wallet would be in his hand.

“David,” he would chide me, laughing, “when will you learn to keep an eye on your things – you never know who you’re going to run into around here.”

One day, after another unsuccessful lesson (somehow we seemed to spend more time playing than doing homework) I asked him, “José, what was it like to sleep on the streets?”

This time he didn’t laugh; he didn’t smile.  He looked at me steadily, and his voice grew hard.  “David, I did not sleep on the streets, and Marta and Felipe didn’t either.  Every night I’d go to the garbage and find newspapers and spread them like sheets on a bench to be our bed - because nobody was ever going to say that I couldn’t give my brother and sister a bed when they really needed one.  We never slept on the streets, and you must never say we did.”

Those newspapers.  That bench.  That was how José found some dignity while he was keeping his family alive on the streets.  

Dignity – that is what I want #foreverychild.

Tiny Stories