Alan Mills – Street Kids

Alan Mills on his National Service in Haifa as a constable with the Palestine Police.

I-Arab-quarter-Haifa

Haifa, Arab Quarter (Suq)

Shortly after my trip to Rosh Pina, I was back in Haifa on the circle beats, this time patrolling with an Arab constable. One thing I’d become  curious about in Haifa was the amount of gangs of street kids about.

These kids were commonly known as Huranis. Most didn’t look like they were even in their teens and as soon as they saw us, they scattered, so we never really new much about them. One Sergeant told me he thought they were from Huran, a desperately poor landlocked  small province with no industry or fertile land somewhere in the Red Sea area. The story went their fathers left Huran in search of work usually with their kids in tow. Quite often they’d stowed away on ships which sailed up the Red Sea and they were usually thrown off at the next port when discovered, which could be in Port Said, Jaffa or Haifa or in the other direction as far away as India. Often on arrival in a new city, the kids were just left to fend for themselves, just the flotsam of the world.

Anyway, on this particular day, the Haifa Fire Brigade were blowing the water hydrants. This meant leaving them gushing clean water for some time. This, as it often did attracted a group of these street kids, who took the opportunity to have a good wash. But as always, as soon as they saw us, they just fled.They were all barefoot and at the mercy of any rubbish that might be dropped in the street. I noticed one of the kids was limping badly with blood pouring from a badly lacerated foot which obviously needed attention. I quickly spoke to the Arab constable about it and we were overheard by a shop keeper who said he spoke their dialect and would phone for an ambulance if we could get the kid to stay still. We decided to just hang back in the shop and wait for the kids to come back to finish their ablutions. Sure enough, a few minutes later they returned, we came out of the shop and between the three of us grabbed the kid. He was absolutely terrified, he screamed and howled, kicking out the best he could but we managed to calm him down and with the help of the shop keeper explain we were only trying to help and an ambulance was on it’s way. Eventually he told us he had stood on a broken bottle, the jagged wound was still bleeding badly and the bone was clearly visible. It didn’t take long for the ambulance to arrive but when it did the medics took one look and said they wouldn’t treat him because he was a street kid. I was exasperated with them, it was a five minute job to patch him up, I asked for there ID and made it clear I was going to send a report in about their refusal to treat him. They changed their tune and reluctantly patched the poor lad up.

Later, I jotted the incident down in my notebook which was passed on to the station inspector, which was routine procedure. A couple of days later the inspector pulled me to one side and gave me a mild rebuke.

“Sympathy or gratitude are not recognised by these people, in a few years time that kid could be trained to use a rifle and you could be in his sights.”

There wasn’t much I could say, I wasn’t responsible for the political situation in the area nor the fact the kid was there, I was just concerned the wound could become infected and without proper medical care, who knows where this already disadvantaged kid might end up. But I could see the Inspectors point of view as well, with the political turmoil in the area who knows what that kid might become.

Later that week, still working the same circle, I came across a group of Hirani kids again which I assumed were the same group. As always, they saw us and they scattered but I noticed one at the back wearing a wellington boot. Someone had obviously persuaded him it would be a good idea to keep the bandages clean and dry. As he turned the corner he stopped and gave me a big toothy grin, pointed at his foot and gave me a plaintive thumbs up. A small gesture although for me, a reward bigger than any pay cheque.

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2 Comments

  1. Another good one from Alan. A copper with a heart, now there’s a first!

  2. Great article, sad about the street kids, makes you count your blessings.

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