Love Has a Face

Written by Iris Dakar

Something Heidi Baker often says is “Love looks like something.” In Senegal, we have translated this saying into French “L’amour a un visage.” This translates literally as “Love has a face.” Love is not just a nice thought or idea, but rather tangible and visible. It’s a sincere action that can be seen and felt. It can be known.
One of Iris Dakar’s favorite places to put this principle into practice is with the street children. While most of society has written them off as a lost cause, we believe in loving them with all that we have to offer. They are worthy of our love and attention and we strive to champion them to live up to their fullest potential.
In addition to our day center, called School of Hope, at the end of 2023 we opened up an emergency center for boys that are wanting to leave the streets permanently. This center is a safe place where they can invest in vocational training, while living in a family setting, with the goal of finding long-term placement off the streets.
When we opened, we had two boys that came and lived in our center right away. They both had been on the streets for years, and every time they had gone to other centers they ran away and ended up back on the streets. However, with the help of our amazing team these boys found stability at our shelter and said they were never tempted to run away. With time, they could be trusted with appropriate errands and even handling small funds.
One of these boys was recently reunited with his family and is continuing the same vocational training in his village. Both him and his mother report they are very happy to be together again. His mother had been looking for him for a long time and we were so blessed to be a part of their reunification. This is exactly our heart and desire – the restoration of families.
We recently took in another three boys. Two are very young and had only been on the streets for a short time. We didn’t want them to be exposed to the dangers of living on the streets, this is the very purpose of the emergency center. They are now in a loving environment with one of our partner's ministries, where they are thriving. The third boy has been our friend for a long time. After giving him many chances he finally decided to go back to the streets, which is very sad! But we also know that God is in control and that his plans are always perfect. Please be praying for these boys who are so hurt in their hearts!

We would also like to share a testimony of one of our recent night outreaches to the street children. There was one boy that used to come to our day center, but then did not attend for over a year. He began to engage in unhealthy behavior such as using drugs and often insulting others. Not too long ago, our team arrived at one of the outreach locations and this boy was hiding from the team to not show them his bloody face. The team soon discovered that an older boy was threatening to severely beat him because the boy had stolen his phone. There was significant tension as the team tried to protect the boy but also not condone the theft. In the end, the team was able to hold the older boy off until the boy ran away, though the team was still concerned for his safety.
Then next day, the boy came to the day center. Our team took time to pray and seek the Lord for wisdom of how to handle this situation as the boy was still at risk. As they prayed, they had the idea to ask for a meeting with the older boy that was offended. They met and proposed that the boy pay back the value of the phone. He agreed. The boy was then able to come back to the School of Hope and do jobs at the center to earn money to compensate for what he had stolen. This solution brought peace again to a very delicate and potentially violent situation.