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Day 20

We have a new boy in the Food for Thought. We’ll call him Steve (not his real name). He was recommended to us by a school that we have been collaborating with. This particular school sends us children who need extra support. We always have a meeting with the parents or caregivers where possible. In this case, it was the mother (We’ll call her Maria). What interests us is the history of the child. His relationship with his parents, if there is any type of abuse, how does he get on at school and does he have friends. We are looking for a panoramic view to plan the best way to support Steve.

Maria had separated from the father as he was with another woman whilst she was pregnant with Steve. It turns out that Steve now has a half-brother from that affair. Maria returned to be with the father when Steve was 3 years old but it didn’t work out the second time either. Steve spends a night with the father over the weekend. The rest of the time he stays with his mother.

Two years ago, at 7 years of age, he was diagnosed with ADHD. The neurologist suggested starting him on medication. To her credit, Maria declined to put Steve on drugs. At around the same time, she took a job and would leave Steve alone for a couple of hours every day. She would organise food and leave him with the dog until she came home from work.

I live by the motto “make the most with what you’ve got”. It is a practical saying that helps me gauge any situation and know that I am doing all that I can, with the resources that I have available to me. Let’s look at Maria’s situation objectively. She is a single mother, receives no financial support from the father, has to pay rent and feed herself and her son. The state of the Argentine economy basically means that everything is twice as expensive today, as it was 2 years ago. Maria told us that any person she trusted to look after Steve, couldn’t, and those that could, she didn’t trust. So, looking at that panoramic, Maria hasn’t had too much of a choice but to leave Steve at home alone.

Luckily, Steve can now come to Food for Thought and not be left home alone. He has only been with us a couple of days but he is slowly opening up. He has spent most of his life up until now playing computer games. The school was concerned about his non-social behaviour and I can see why. Tomorrow, we are going on a small cultural tour of the town organised by the local council for the school holidays. It will be good to get Steve out and about and hopefully interacting with other children.