Wednesday, 18 March 2009

And his headmaster said 'society needed to be protected against him', how wrong can a man be?


Roger Hosking's Mum walked out on the family when he was 5 years old. He became angry and aggressive and was sent to a special school at the age of ten and when he was fifteen the headmaster wrote to his Father saying “Society needs to be protected against people like Roger”.

Later in life Roger became a Christian and came to the conclusion that Jesus spent little time in the synagogue but lots with those on societies margins and as Roger had firsthand experience of how it felt to be rejected, despised and on the margins he and his wife Beryl decided to help those who had been through the same types of experiences, and set up Highfields Happy Hens in Etwall, Derbyshire.

“I never wanted to be a farmer”, Roger said, “I just wanted to look after young people and this seemed to be the best way. Angry hands became gentle hands collecting eggs, the youngsters learnt to count, read, write, handle money and customers. In short they learned to respect themselves and became able to become positive members of society.”

Roger and Beryl are also proud of the fact that of the hundreds of teenagers who have attended the farm over the years, not one, according to the youth offending service, has reoffended. And Roger has no doubt that most of the youngsters go on to better things. "The majority enrol in further education or find full-time employment. We know this because so many return to thank us. We also receive positive feedback from their former teachers. The Highfields experience is a like chain reaction – we have thousands of chickens producing thousands of eggs each and every day. Those eggs need to be collected, counted, packed and delivered. Even the most damaged young person can find a place where they can fit in and feel useful, and our staff has the time to talk to them in an atmosphere of love and healing".

Every week during the school year, young people help the Hosking’s on their farm. All are struggling in mainstream education, are the victims of bullying or else have a difficult home life. The aim is to teach these teenagers new skills to boost their self-esteem and give them a sense of achievement and direction.

Speaking of the youngsters Roger said one of them was particularly disgusting, “He was snotty, dirty, his language was the pits (despite our efforts), he could neither read write or count but he could collect eggs and one day he asked if he could do it on his own. I explained that he couldn’t as he needed to count and record the eggs – “well then teach me” he said. In 3 weeks he could count accurately up to 5000 and later learnt to keep the records, he became clean and pleasant.”

“Recently we had a lovely young girl with us, she has been tagged but we could not understand how she had got into trouble (we never ask, this is a new life) before she left us she banged a nail in our cross (they have a Christian Cross on the farm) and later wrote to us, the letter closed with ‘Thank you all so much for welcoming me in the way that you did when others would never have given me a chance’. It was so simple and has happened so many times”.

"But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? Job 12:7-9

As Roger and Beryl have shown, creation heals, but now needs healing from the damage inflicted upon it by greed and ignorance if it to be able to continue its healing work.

3 comments:

mrs green said...

Peter, you always manage to find such uplifting and heart warming stories of 'ordinary' people doing extraordinary things.

When I read of people like Roger and Beryl, they bring to mind the image of earth angels. Special people with special hearts and an enormous capacity to love unconditionally - far greater than I ever could.

They are amazing people who deserve our respect and gratitude for making the world a better place.

Thank you for sharing this story - it's beautiful and gives me so much hope that there are people out there who genuinely care for others.

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

Wonderful people! I love the idea of learning from doing, it is really the way most people learn.

Kati said...

What a beautiful story, Peter!!!

Thank you for sharing it with us! Wishing Roger and Beryl all the best as they continue to help children in need.