PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO READ THIS:
This little boy next to me, his name is Chase, he is 12 years old (or that is what he told me).I catch a western line train into town every Friday and Saturday afternoon for 40 minutes to get my carpool into work. But yesterday was very different. I walked up to the Train Station close to my house (New Lynn) at about 3:30pm and something caught my eye, it was Chase. But he was sitting by himself. I sat down close to him and he started to talk to me. He asked me about my work hoodie that i was wearing, then went on to say that I was lucky I came for the train when I did as he said he had been waiting here for almost an hour. I asked him where he was heading, and he said Pukekohe (which for you non New Zealand followers, is like the opposite side of town, maybe from where we were a 2 and a half hour trip including 2 different trains). I was shocked, Pukekohe was a dangerous area and so was New Lynn for a little boy to be by himself.I asked him where he was going and he said ‘Home’. I asked him where he came from and he said that we ran all the way here from Hillsborough (an hours walk), that he lived in a boys home in foster care. He went on to say that he couldn’t handle it there anymore. The boys there threatened to ‘slit his throat as he slept’ or steal his stuff when he wasn’t home. They used to beat him up and try and poison his food. The Caregivers there he said were just as bad. He then went on to show me his Nike shirt he said he got for his birthday and said the caregivers purposely bleached it. He said ‘They ruin our things on purpose’. I then asked him if he has bought a train ticket, and he said yes and showed it to me. He then went on to say ‘Im a good boy, I don’t want to get on the train without a ticket. Im not like that’. I asked him where he got the money and he told me that on the way to the train station he got mugged by a Maori boy for all the coins he had on him. He said he spent the hour he was hear waiting asking for spare change and that when he got into town he was going to do the same for his next 1 and a half train to Pukekohe, then when he got to Pukekohe he was going to run for an hour to his house to ‘finally be with his mum’. At this point the security guard standing close to us basically emptied his pockets to this kid, gave him $19.40 in coins, Chase asked me to count them cause he said he isn’t good with numbers.Chase then asked me if he could sit next to me on the train, so he could feel safe. I said ‘I wasn’t going to let you sit by yourself now was I’. On the train ride, Chase opened up to me, in just that 40 minutes alone we became best friends. He told me why Child, Youth and Families had taken him away from his mum. He told me that his sister used to beat him up. But now his mum has kicked his sister out because ‘She was such a bitch and ruined our family’, but yet the social workers still refused to send him home. He nonstop spoke about his mum, he said he loved his mum to the moon and back and that his mum was a wonderful, genuine woman. He said ‘She’s going to be so excited to see me, I haven’t seen her in 6 months’. Chase really loved his mum, and he told me that his mum really loved him. He said ‘I wish the social workers would just listen to us instead of making assumptions and ruining our lives’. Chase doesn’t go to school, not even home schooled, he said that because of his ADHD noone bothers to even try in foster care, and that the other boys in the home steal his medication.
When we got to town he brought himself a 3 dollar coffee and downed it in front of the lady, he then proceeded to say ‘I have a long night ahead of me’. I walked him up to Wendy’s Burgers and bought him a meal and made him eat it, while i ate with him. Then i walked him back to the train station and wrote my phone number in vivid on his arm. I told him to ring me if there is any trouble, and ring me as soon as he was near a phone. I told him to just ring me so i knew he was safe. I bought him his train ticket, and Chase said to me suddenly ‘Hold on Kaitlin, wait here’. He ran off, and quickly returned. He went and gave the left over coins to a homeless man, he then proceeded to say ‘because i know what it is like to need a few coins for something important’.
I walked him down to his platform, his train left a 5:10pm yesterday, and it was getting dark. He gave me a big hug and said that he will add me on Facebook if he cant call me and message me on there. He told me not to worry, that he knew Pukekohe well, and he will just sprint home.
Then he was gone.
At 11:53pm last night i got a phone call, it was Chase, he made it home safely. He sounded over the moon and his voice sounded less anxious and more at peace. He told me he was safe.
This was such an eye opener for me, don’t take what you have for granted.