Story Time

From #3 Leave-Taking, Visit to SFG and Visitors – June 12, 2012

Shortly after I retired to my bed to begin this blog, there was a shy knock on the door. “Come in. Who’s there?” In came Joseph, the youngest child here in the orphanage and his best bud, Jackson. I had met Jackson on Sunday when he came to sit with Judy and me in mass. He snuggled right up to me, although we had never met and when I put my arm around to cuddle he snuggled even closer. His clothes are tattered and in need of a bath, as is his body, but he is so engaging those issues don’t seem to matter.

As they appeared in my door way, each holding 3 or 4 books that Judy brought and has left on a chair in our entry for anyone to read (and bring back!). They looked so cute I asked, “Would you like me to read you a story?” Jackson reads very well, but Joseph has not yet deciphered the coding. He’s in first grade and everyone is concerned about it.

Two heads nodded. “Take off your shoes and climb up with me” I said, patting each side. Shy giggles. Off came the shoes and soon we were settled in, reading books about bridges, bears who became friends, “A is for Africa” and one of my favorites, “The Little House”.

I first met Joseph and his older brother, Lucas, last summer when they came to join us at Mji Wa Neema. Their father had died some time ago. Mother was HIV positive and died last summer while the 2 boys helplessly looked on. Neighbors had notified Jecinta, who collected them and brought them here. Joseph used to run to me for a hug whenever I’d appear in a doorway, spending much of the rest of the time crying and sucking his thumb. Now he is in school, still sucks his thumb, but finding Jackson seems to have alleviated some of his loneliness. Lucas had been a wonderful brother to him, but is dealing with his own loss and grief.

Stories like Joseph and Lucas’s really bring home the tragedy of the AIDS crisis in Africa. J&L are among the lucky ones, landing in a loving environment, where school is encouraged, food is plentiful there is a very loving group of (now) older brothers and sisters who have taken them under their collective wings. There are literally millions of children who don’t have a loving orphanage, with a warm bed (don’t have to share, even) sufficient food, clothes, school and lots of love.

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