Saturday, June 03, 2006
Sand and Babies
I came here to work with orphaned children, but as an administrator, and mother, I don't have much time for that. I have to create ways and generate funds for others to do that. Several of the kids who live near the Baobab Home are orphans, but I suppose I don't think about that a lot. So many kids visit daily and are all familiar to me. I dress wounds, break up arguments, and encourage silliness. I know who to watch for danger signs, but most are skinny, but stable. There is a house across the street that has several orphaned children passing through- they stay a few months with their grandmother (who is always away in the fields anyway) and then leave and new faces appear. Recently, a small girl (2?), named Yusra has been around. She is so quiet I barely noticed her, until her "aunt" and "uncle" who ostensibly care for her, took the time to make some jokes about her. The last time these two mistreated an orphan in their care(Yusra's older sister), I made it a very public issue and stopped the problem, so I am surprised they made the jokes. I picked Yusra up and took her home. I held her while my son played. I said her name gently. She clung to me. I gave her juice and she couldn't get enough of it. Her feet were as dry as leather. She has light hair around the edges- tell tale signs of malnutrition. My son Justis fell asleep. The power went out and I just held this quiet child who wanted nothing but my arms around her. I wanted to bathe her, but I didn't want to disturb our quiet time. So I thought how, sometimes, to bathe my son seems a chore because he is so active. Justis has so so many people who love him. Yusra has no one, well, now me- and Justis too. We saw her today and he went over to hug her-really embrace her. I think he scared her, but we fixed all that. I know that all my life I was treated as a unique individual- by my parents ,teachers. How incredibly lucky I am. The word in Swahili for infant is the same as sand and everytime I remember that it feels so sad. Yusra.. Yusra...human being, alive, sick, needing love..so much more than a grain of sand.