Today was my last day with the kids in the ghetto, we were running a little late so the kids were all sitting inside the community center by the time we got there. We had the most kids today, I thought they were packed in before…. I hardly had room to stand, there were kids everywhere.
We had a pretty quick lesson today, I had a craft for the older kids that was going to take up a little bit of time. I talked about listening to parents, how important it is to follow directions and got about 15 minutes in before the little ones started getting restless and noisy. Cliff and a few of the boys ushered all the kids under 5 out to have their porriadge while I enlisted Stephen, Cranma and Eric to help me get ready for the craft.
We ended up with about 30 kids, so much easier to talk to a group of 30 than a group of 100+. I asked them if they thought they were special and the kids said yes, and got some interesting answers when I asked why they were special. One little girl said she was special because she could roll beads, another said he was special because he did good things. I picked a few kids at random and asked if anyone had a laugh like one of the girls. The kids shook their heads, no. I told them the little girl was special because no one in the world had a laugh like hers. I picked up Patricia's hand and asked if anyone had the exact same hand as Patricia, again I got nos. I told the kids Patricia was special because she was the only one with hands like hers. I told them each and every one there was special. I asked them to make me a promise, that when they got up every morning they would tell themselves they were special. I got some very shy grins and nods.
I put the boys into stations and turned back to the kids, holding up a container of beads. “I’ve brought you all something, these are magic beads. You each get 10 magic beads, each bead is good for one wish. You can wish for anything you want, but you have to wish with your whole heart.” The way the kid’s faces lit up as Cliff translated was worth every penny I spent to get here. Cliff and I lined the kids up in front of the boys and they distributed 10 beads to each child and a piece of stretchy string. The kids went back to their seats and chatted happily with their neighbor as they strung their beads and talked about what they were going to wish for. There were so many beads left over I had Josephine and Lilian also make one.
After the kids had their bracelets, we told the kids to go outside so we could all take a picture together. As the kids swarmed out of the building, there was a tug on my arm. I looked down and the cutest little boy was standing, smiling shyly up at me. He held up a strand of brown paper beads. I looked around and plucked Stephen by the neck of his shirt and asked him to translate. “It’s a gift for you,”. The little boy slipped the necklace over my head and I gave him a hug. Before I could take a step someone grabbed my hand and slipped a bracelet on to it. Everywhere I turned, left and right, kids were holding up paper bead jewelry and grinning. I gratefully accepted each gift and returned it with a hug and a picture.
One of Joshepine's granddaughters
Another of her granddaughters
There were so many kids around me, I was being pushed off the ledge I was teetering on
All my bling ;)
When we had taken a group shot, the kids got their millet. Ronald came up to me looking nervous. “I have a gift for you,” he said. I smiled and put my arm around his shoulder. “You are my gift,” I told him. He shook his head, frowning. “No, I have something I want to give you. Let me run home and get it.” The other kids had their cup of millet filled and dispersed. We were just getting packed up to leave when Ronald came running back. He had a beautiful red and blue bracelet that he put on my wrist, granted he had to find room first. I had been holding back tears as the kids had been giving me their gifts but Ronald’s bracelet was the last straw. We walked back to the car, I had my sunglasses over my tear filled eyes. The boys loaded into the back so we could drop them off and we started driving out of the ghetto. I cried silently, clutching Calvin sitting on my lap as we drove. The boys got out at their stop and gave me a high five. They promised to come back on Monday when I visit the women one last time and then left. I sat in the front seat of the car and let the tears stream down my face, I didn’t want to upset Cliff, Eron or Esther. However when we stopped at the market Eron leaned over the seat and asked why I was crying.
That made me start crying in earnest, Calvin looked at me worried as I explained how touched I was that the kids had brought me gifts. I had only seen them three Saturdays out of the 5 weeks that I’ve been here. The effortless love these kids give is wonderful and heartwarming. They and their families have very little, and yet they still find a way to show their love and appreciation. These kids have taught me that you don’t need much in life to be happy, you just need love. I will miss these kids dearly, not as much as I will miss my boys though. I desperately wish I could stay longer and get to know these kids and their families better, but unfortunately I only have one week left in Uganda.
Monday I see the women one last time and we’ll bring the girls to the house. On Friday we’ll take them back to the ghetto early and pick up the boys. Okidi’s heartfelt plea to Cliff for the boys to take me to the airport next Saturday was irresistible. The boys will come to the airport with Cliff and I to say good bye. Not looking forward to saying goodbye, but I am excited to have one more night with my boys.