Parents wrote – Izabella

19 November 2016

Dear Pali,

Let me share the story of this significant time and turning point of our lives. You and the Chance Program are one of the actors in the story – the other one is my son.

Our story begins on a sunny day in May – three days before Whitsuntide -, we were at the ’mad at each other’ state with our son. We weren’t enthusiastic that morning, but we started off with our regular day. I’ve received an e-mail before noon with a website address and a question ( ’for Robby?’). After opening the site, I didn’t hesitate as usual but wrote an e-mail right away and asked the question which was asked several times, places and occasions before – could this program be good for our recurring problem? For my surprise I’ve only received an answer with a phone and the note ’call me’. I ran down to the parking lot in front of our company building to make the phone call because I was ashamed about our everyday personal struggles. The call wasn’t long, It was about when and where to meet and whether or not we have professional opinions. I was anxious and concerned about my kid’s opinion on the fact that I’m taking him somewhere again. I decided to show him the website first – I just gave him a print-out with no further explanation. The next day I asked him about his opinion, he said ’this would be super cool’, that’s when I told him we already have an appointment. It was on Friday, I couldn’t find my place the whole day, like every time I took my son to a new place – after all this is the story of a 17 years old teenager. I was observing my kid along the way. I couldn’t see signs of depression or resistance (’mom’s another try…’). We’ve heard a lot about the program, several positive experiences which strengthened my impression – this is individual therapy with the help of mentors. The leader of the program, Mr. Pál Vaskuti told us the price of the trip and we gave each other a look with my son – this wasn’t the price for us, let’s just say good bye politely – we agreed without saying a word.  Mr. Vaskuti obviously noticed our concern because next he said he would take the kid for 3 weeks for the fraction of the price! I couldn’t even react when my son asked ’Mom, will 3 weeks be enough?’. We exited with feelings of euphoria and the agreement to return the next day before noon. It was unbelievable for us – how could we be so lucky, this man gives us so much despite not even knowing us? I’ve almost spent the price of two houses on the recurring problems with my kid and nobody ever helped us. I’m not a bigot in terms of religion, but I turned to God with gratitude in my heart for our chance – our ’miracle’. After only little time of sleeping but with hearts full of thankfulness we went to the meeting the next day to find Pali greet us like long time acquaintances. After sitting down with our ’positive shock’ from the previous day Pali told us he would take Robby to Srí Lanka not for three but four weeks. We couldn’t find the words. Pali escorted Robby out with a newspaper about the program so he could read about it so I and Pali could speak privately. He told me he could tell that we are not blood-related with my son and it came off of my first letter that I raise him alone, so since I did so much for this child he feels he has to support us, especially because he doesn’t see my child a hopeless case and he thinks he deserves a chance. I was struggling to hold my tears back – have been ever since, every time I think about this. I was keep repeating ’thank you, thank you’, like a broken record – that’s when Pali forbid me of saying thank you to him ever again. We’ve been to many different places as I’ve mentioned before, so I can definately tell, who’s really interested in the child and who thinks of him as ’just a case’. Not to mention that when we tell that Robby is adopted, most places just send us away – after ripping off a few 10.000 forints and telling us that Robby is just a teenager, they usually work like this and I’m just complaining. This was not the case with Pali. He was taking notes about everything we’ve mentioned about Robby, every expert’s opinion was carefully read and he didn’t tell me that I’m exeggarate things. I fent that I’m leaving my child in good hands eventhough Pali didn’t say the outcome of the trip will be 100% success, he just said that I would definately get back a different person. When leaving, he said he would buy the plane tickets for Robby that day. We were literally dancing all the way home! My Robby was calling everybody on the phone about the trip, his friend among others, who knew we didn’t have that kind of money for the trip. Back then, I didn’t know how I could gather the money needed, but I knew that I’ll get it. Next day it was Whitsuntide, so I had some free time to think about how could I get the money. I’ve called a relative – the call was ended in a fight, he didn’t agree with spending money again on my son. He said it was money thrown away. I had to think of something else, I was exceptionally eager for the holiday to end. This big opportunity made my kid so dimmed by the happiness that while I was running after money, he couldn’t find his way to the school. I was very disappointed, but I thought maybe this is his last mischief. The whole group was ready by the middle of next week so we were invited for a meeting with all the other kids and their parents, the mentors and Pali of course. I’ve found every mentor very likeable, but only me – Robby stated he hopes he wouldn’t get David as mentor (he couldn’t answer when I asked why). After the meeting Pali came up to me and said that he decided if Robby shows promise, he could stay in the program for full summer, but this will only be told Robby at the end of the first four weeks. I though of saying ’thank you’ again, but I didn’t, learning from my previous mistake from a few minutes ago when I accidentally said ’thank you’ and he left me there. I just stood there and nothing came to my mind that could put my gratitude and respect into words. I hugged him and he said something which I’m very thankful for: he said ’You’ve raised a great kid, the basics are good’. He gave me my hope back – maybe I’m not a bad mother after all, and it made me happy that he also sees the greatness in my kid. The time untill the flight went by very rapidly. David became Robby’s mentor obviously, which is not a problem now, he grew to love him like a brother, someone who he can look up to, someone who’sworth to listen to. For me, the three months went by very slowly. Robby became more and more mature which I could sense in every phone call, every e-mail. He had an outburst once when talking on the phone halfway the adventure therapy which made me concerned, but as it turned out, he just feels homesick and he misses his family. It was great to listen to sentences like ’I love my family’ and ’I miss them’. I was very excited about what kind of person will I get back. A little boy got on the plane and a real man got off from it htree months later! 17 days passed since he got back. I know it’s not much time, but his lack of aggression is outstanding. He wouldn’t get upset about anything. Before the therapy, he would burst out when I touched him or gave him a look while traveling by bus – he immediately raised his voice. Now he is not quarreling, not trying to prove his right, not commanding. He admitted that the values are inside us. It was exciting to listen to him talking about how poor the people are in Srí Lanka and still happy and smiling. He haven’t contacted his former friends yet. Usually when he got home he went to his room without any conversation. Now he is keep talking about his experiences, talks about himself, without any questions. One time he just started to say how lucky he felt, how many chances he got, how many times he could have gotten to an institution or could have gotten into trouble with law if he wouldn’t have gotten into an environment where he is appreciated and trusted. How many chances he got to stand up on his two feet, and he has gotten it again, and he’s going to prove he is worthy of trust – ’Mom, you’ll be proud of me, you’ll see’. He says all this with the confidence of a grown man, not a 17 years old teenager. I would have never thought to live up to this – the dread and terror is over. He knows who he is, he accepts his origins, he accepted that the value of a person is not determined by the color of his/her skin, the contents of a wallet or religious beliefs. Once when we talked on the phone when he was still in Srí Lanka, he asked me to find him a new school because he doesn’t want to go back to the same environment he got out of. This made me very happy since I was planning on reasoning him into switching schools, but now he came up with the subject by himself! He set out for himself to get A’s in school – now the good students are not nerds anymore. Another obvious and great change is his honesty, patience and kindliness. He asked me not to talk about the past anymore because 26th of August, 2013 is the beginning of a new era. I think with gratitude about the people who triggered this change in my son. We got a life-changing experience. I say ’we’ because we all got back a new Robby, who’s virtues have stayed with him, but the bad qualities got left behind in the Indian Ocean!

For us saying ’thank you’ is forbidden, but I violate our agreement for the very last time and say THANK YOU!

Greetings from Izabella, a happy mother