Sunday, April 01, 2007

Ethiopia Trip #6

March 28, 2007
Today, I was able to visit a project where we work with school-age children. (As a side note, this was my second visit to this project—the first time my camera refused to work.) The ride to the project was over bone-rattling roads with deep ruts and narrow passageways.

It seemed that some of the children recognized me (I mean seriously, how often do they see a white person with big hair twice in one week!) The older children came up to me boldly, shaking my hand, asking my name.

God, they were beautiful! I don’t even know how to explain it. Such smiles! Such bright eyes! My heart hurt with all of it.

The kindergartners made me laugh. Since most of their eyes were at waist level or below, it took them a moment to get to my face. I could tell the instant the color of my skin dawned on them. Eyes grew wide. Mouths fell open. Some ran away. Others giggled. Three brave ones became my shadow. Each time I turned to look behind me, one would run away, one would cover her eyes and the other froze in his tracks. When I held out my hand to the paralyzed one, he took it shyly and walked with me a few steps. Soon he ran off, probably to tell his friends he had touched the white person!

As we left, a tiny girl approached me. Her face was freshly scrubbed, and as I knelt down to say hello, she kissed my cheek. I returned the gesture on her still damp one. How I wish time would have stopped. Even now, only a few hours later, the memory is already fading. To write it down is to hold it for a few moments longer.

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