Hope is Gone

8 year old Hope Arismandez

They say I’m hopeless
As a penny with a hole in it
They say I’m no less
Than up to my head in it
Hopeless, Dionne Farris

Hope is gone the headline says.  Hope is gone and again the country is plunged into shock and horror and distress at the death of another innocent.
Hope is gone and for a few days some of us will mourn.  Some of us will weep and wonder how this could happen.
We will not however, fly into a rage when we hear big hard back men suiting girls in school uniform.  Girls that could be their  daughters, their sisters.
Hope is gone and I am wondering how many more times we will have to face these headlines before our police service gets training in child protection.
Hope is gone and nobody sees the connection between sexual abuse in our homes and police officers who go skinny dipping with 14-year-old Colombian prostitutes.  And why a 14 year old would be a prostitute in the first place.
Hope is gone and in our homes we watch marathons of Law and Order Special Victims Unit, wishing the officers in a make believe American police drama would step out of our television sets and chase down the murderer of Akiel Chambers.  Try to figure out why those little boys killed Sean Luke.  Seek justice for Amy Annamunthodo.
Hope is gone and some of us have no more tears for dead children.  Some of us who are complicit in the abuse of our own children cannot weep.
Some of us who know of primary school girls and their taxi driver men will not be able to mourn.
Some of us mothers who are so busy hustling that we can’t begin to give power to our fears about what the man and woman watching our children is doing to them.
Some of us fathers who don’t know or don’t care to know how our children survive will not feel the pain of Hope’s father.
Some of us who struggle with our own pasts will have no tears for Hope or her mother.
Hope is gone but many of us have been hopeless for much longer.
Hope, for many people, has been gone a long time.
Hope dies everyday, in classrooms where the desperate acting up of troubled children is labeled as disruptiveness.
Hope dies everyday in the back seats of taxis, in the over-populated children’s homes.
Hope is the loved and highly favoured child.  The unloved and abused child.  Hope is the child that is not protected.  Hope is every child in Trinidad and Tobago, because every child in this country is at risk until we have real laws and until we get it through the thick skulls of our men that after 12 is not lunch.
Hope is gone but everyday a thousand new Hopes are born.
A thousand new Hopes to be preyed on. A thousand Akiels and Seans and Amys.  Thousands of children to fall through the open cracks of no child protection legislation.
Hope is gone and parliamentarians will fall asleep on the job and all the talk about laws to protect children will be lost in the noise of ole talk about various nonsensicalities.
Hope is gone and we will continue to shed crocodile tears for every child whose life is so brutally snuffed out but never put pressure on the people who can really begin to make a difference to protect all our children.
Save your tears.  Don’t cry too much for Hope.  Move on quickly.  File away that pain because you will have to reach for it sooner rather than later.
Put it somewhere you can reach it easily.  For the children in your neighbourhood.  For the children in your children’s classes.  For the children who curse and shout in the streets.  For the children languishing in homes and on the streets, surviving the only way they know how.  For your own children that you can’t always protect from the bullies, and the rapists and the seducers.
Hope is gone and with her our capacity to guarantee the brightness of our future.