Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Small Victory

I'm getting more and more respect for Ministry of Social Development Minister Paula Bennett all the time. Aside from breaking up a girl fight, there's the story of the gang connection beat-up. To explain why, let me tell a story. It's true and there's a few parallels.

This is the story of Jane, a teenage girl who had a hard time dealing with her parents' divorce. Last year, she ran away from home and was living on the streets of Wellington. She fell into the company of strangers, took a lot of drugs and paid for them with the only thing of value she thought she had. She shoplifted. She slept rough.

Certain sibling circumstances increased the stress on Jane's mother, who went through a nervous breakdown. Even then, she did what she could. She managed to convince Jane to come home with her one time. Jane invited a whole lot of her street mates around and they ripped off the house.

Social services couldn't help. Jane was eventually arrested for shoplifting and was due to appear before the courts. Distraught and unable to cope with her daughter's rejection, Jane's Mum asked a couple of friends, Madame Guru and Mr Future, to take Jane in and try to remove the feral self-destruction that had taken Jane over. The courts duly released Jane into the Guru/Future household.

I cautioned against such a move. "She'll rip you guys off," I warned. "She has to work it out of her system herself," I counselled. Nevertheless, they took Jane in. It was hard on them. It was hard on their family. There were rough patches. I didn't hear from Madame Guru and Mr Future for months on end as their lives were so full on.

But Jane didn't rip them off. After a few months, Jane settled down again and went back to school. She moved back in with her mother. There's a picture in the Guru/Future lounge of their family, painted by Jane. For Christmas, Jane's Mum gave a Kirk's voucher as thanks for their help. Unaided by state intervention, unpaid by WINZ, the Families Commission or any other esoteric quango, it was just ordinary folks being good people with what they had.

So hands off Halaholo, you tabloid vulture. While there's life, there's hope.