Pongo Project Journal

Sharing stories of our work with teens
Dec 24
Takeaway Wishes On the Eve of 2020

Takeaway Wishes on the Eve of 2020

During 2020's holiday season at CFJC , youth wrote on the theme of wishes. The poems taught our team of mentors that wishes are close cousins of regret. But the poems reminded us that wishes are of stronger stock, as they can help a person formulate a vision for the future. Here's a Wish Poem by one young person that captures the dignity and strength these students are worthy of.

by a young person at CFJC

When I was young, I used to wish I could take away
all my family’s problems, like my mom’s struggle
to get the bills paid on time, her coming home late
and needing to fix a meal,
my grandma having to take care of her mom.

Today I wish I didn’t add on to the problem,
getting in trouble a lot.
Instead of getting in trouble,
helping out with things.

Everyday I wish to make my family smile
when they see my face.

My wish is the color of light sky blue--
the color that reminds me of happiness
and freedom.

It is the sound of a warm summer breeze
and the ocean hitting the shore,
like when we used to go to Canon Beach.

My wish feels like that warm tingling sensation
when you’re going down a roller coaster.

My wish is always involving my family and those I love.

My wish is never for self-gain.

My wish is a piece of me,
the piece that is loving
to those I deem

A special thank you to Poetry Mentor, Mark Johnson for facilitating this poem and for noticing the theme that so many of these young people are keenly, painfully preoccupied with-- protecting their families and friends. Given the losses so many have sustained in 2020, perhaps this preoccupation pangs in the minds of more of us than in previous years. Perhaps our dreams of 2021 share a similar hue--the freedom and happiness of an open sky.

Happy Holidays and a Happier 2021 to all CFJC youth and staff and to the Pongo community all over the world.

Nov 26
Feelings of Gratitude in Fall, 2020

Feelings of Gratitude in Fall, 2020

The clearest way for Pongo to express our gratitude this year is to share a group poem written over Zoom last night (11/25/2020) with youth at CFJC. Enjoy!

by a group of youth residents at CFJC

I am truly grateful for my supportive family
like my mom, my lil’ brothers, and my older brothers.
I am truly grateful for another year
of life.
I am truly grateful for my family.

It's easy to be grateful when I’m in a good mood

and feeling good— being happy
and goofin’ off with my brothers

when everything goes good
when I wake up and I know
that it’s one day more and one day less
of being here.

It’s easy to be grateful
when everyone else abandons you
because then you realize

people’s true colors.
You’re alone
and that makes you stronger
because you realize
you can do it.

But it's harder to be grateful if
you expect it
or your family isn’t doing
or feeling okay.
It’s going to be hard
to be grateful
if I spend a third year in jail.

Through being grateful, I have learned
how much I rely on you.
Through being grateful,
I’ve learned blood
isn’t always thicker than water.
Through being grateful, I have learned
to just take life as it is.

Thank you to the youth, CFJC staff, our volunteer Pongo Poetry Mentors, and all our supporters around the world!