The Kids!!!

June 27, 2009

Wow, today has changed my life forever. Today we went to visit the farm, orphanage and a small village with many children. The engineers assessed the water pump at the farm and latrine at the orphanage. As soon as we stepped out of the van at the orphanage, thirty big, chocolate brown eyes were staring up at us. The crew presented coloring books, freebies, blow-up balls, and books to Mama Elize, a retired doctor who started and runs the orphanage by herself, as the children sang to us. As we walked to the latrine, Mama embraced me, telling me she wished I could stay there forever. When I told her that many people will see this, her eyes began to fill with tears. “We need help,” she tells me. The current orphanage holds 50 children, but there are thirty more that cannot fit. Mama Elize must pay for them to live with other families, and is running out of money fast. The building EWB was going to build would hold all 80, but they did not have enough money so they must continue to wait until the money is raised. Mama Elize and I walked hand in hand to the latrine. I could tell that she is a very strong woman, but her tenderness was phenomenal. She would do anything for these children. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed. I want to make some kind of fund to help them, or something. Mama Elize and the orphans desire that much.

As the engineers were assessing the latrine, I snuck back to the orphanage to play with the children. The courtyard was filled with laugher and giggling of children, running in all different directions playing with their new toys. As soon as I pulled out my camera, I was swarmed with children ranging ages 3to 13. They posed as I snapped pictures, and exploded in delight when I showed them themselves on the screen. It wasn’t long before they had my camera and were taking pictures of me. The older ones kept the little ones in line, making sure my camera was always returned. One little of about four boy named Francis acted as my director. “Take picture of truck! Picture of car! Of her!” he’d shout with excitement. Then I saw a little girl less than one-year-old perched up on a wall. She let me take her up into her arms. I melted. She didn’t smile much. She just batted her eyes at me and laid her head against my chest. Held her tight until we had to leave.

Next we thought we’re going to lunch, but Richard had another surprise in store for us. We drove up to the mountains, away from Ho. We rumbled down a narrow dirt road enclosed with walls of six-feet tall grass. The countryside was beautiful and wild, with mountains rising randomly from the ground. We drove for a while then a tiny village popped out of nowhere. It was the same village where David had volunteered a year before, and the same village that happens to host the most fun kids in the world.

As the engineers went to inspect the latrine David’s last crew had build, I hung by the van to take a few snap shots. First two little girls shouted and ran towards me. Next thing I know a stampede of forty kids come running out of the surrounding huts. They felt my skin and asked my name, repeating each syllable carefully. They also were excited about getting their picture taken. So I decided to “wow” them. I pulled out the video camera and told them to dance and sing. When I bent down to show them, it felt like hundreds of little hands were pulling me down, fighting to look at the little screen. I disappeared into a standing dog-pile of children. Before I fell down the older children pulled the little one’s off. Soon all the engineers were having fun taking pictures of the children and the children running around with their cameras. David and Mark played soccer with some of the boys and their makeshift ball. One of the little girls wanted to play a hand clap game with me. To my astonishment, it was “say, say ol’ playmate”, the same hand-song I used to play with my mom as a child . The children were excited I knew the song. Soon I was pulled into a giant circle, which was like ring-around-the-roses on speed. Before I knew what was happenning, I was in the middle of a game of tug of war (my team won). The kids kept touching my legs, so I told them it was for jumping and I jumped. They cheered and kept chanting for me to jump more. “Run!” they shouted next, so I took off running. They chased me round the village square. Once again it was time to go, the children hung on my arm as I walked back to van. They bid us all good-bye. You’re not going to believe the next part: As we started to drive off, they chanted “Jess- ee-ca, Jess-ee-ca!” The crew gave me a hard time and I pretended like it was no big deal, but the truth is—that just made my life.

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