The Boys of Baraka


My wife and I watched The Boys of Baraka the other night and I have not been able to get it off my mind. 

The documentary looks at the lives of four inner-city boys from Baltimore, MD who spend a year at the Baraka School in Kenya. The goal being to help them boys overcome the obstacles that most of their fellow students face in the public school system in Baltimore. 

The film begins with  this haunting statistic:

76 percent of black males who enter high school in Baltimore will not graduate. 

That is almost unbelievable to me! 

Bill Cosby comments in the Special Features that this movie shows us that these young men need mentors. To quote Cosby, “Put a body on them!” They need someone to believe in them, walk with them, to push them to not give up. 

We don’t necessarily think of these youth as orphans but there is a real sense in which they are. One definition of ‘orphan’ is a person or thing bereft of protection or position.’ These youths are largely “fatherless” – their mothers and grandmothers are carrying the brunt of responsibility in raising them. Their fathers have moved on, are incarcerated, or dead. They are left with little or no protection. On top of that they are born with little access to resources to gain skills that will put them in positions of worth in this world. They are in America the least and the last and the truly lost. From the world’s perspective they are ‘throw aways.’

So, what ought to be our response to a movie like this? To the reality of this in our own cities? What would it look like if the church took the lead in providing mentors for these young men. To step up and be the “fathers” they need. To be the “body on them” that will believe in them today and not stop believing until they succeed. 

One of our ABBA Fund families just watched the movie as well and blogged their thoughts here. They are also involved in a ministry doing just what this movie calls us too. I love what she writes: 

Volunteer at a school related program for inner city children in your area. Take one day a week to spend with an at risk inner city child. Invest in them, encourage them, mentor them. Be that somebody, that person that lets them know they can hope, they can dream and see their dreams happen. They not only can beat the odds but change the odds.

You can be a part of changing a child’s future.

Watch this movie. Pray for these kids. And consider what you can do. Let me know what God does! 

Here is a clip from the movie – 

5 thoughts on “The Boys of Baraka

  1. I rented this movie from my local blockbuster and after my husband and I watched it we wanted to find info about the boys. We haven’t been able to get it off of our minds and want to do something.

    This issue is really dear to our heart because we have family in the inner city and our experiences are much like the boys of Baraka and their families. Thanks for the thought provoking questions you raise in your post.

    Grace & Peace,

  2. I saw this movie at the Detroit Institute of Art when it came out, and I recently rented and viewed it again. I have to admit that I cried in the very beginning of the film upon my second watching, knowing the disappointment the boys would be confronted with in the end . At the outset you are able to see that these boys are so insightful and motivated, but are being failed by their local system in so many ways. The program, when it was able to function, was wonderful. I have also tried to find follow-up information, but not much seems to be posted. The official website contains some dated follow-up. I did recognize one of the four boys with a very small role on the HBO show “The Wire, season 4.”

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