We went for a long walk recently and noticed some things that cannot be spotted while driving. A beautiful, graceful yellow flower that made its way up to the light through a gnarled and extra thorny Acacia tree. An unexpected treasure. As we walked through the very harsh environment in this part of the country with its dry, sandy, rutted and rocky roads; we came upon a lovely crèche, built by a small community. More than forty preschoolers attend every day and learn some basics, plus they get two hot meals. They welcomed us in and sang songs, recited their numbers and performed the requisite “head, shoulders, knees and toes”. The children were very interested in us and some were even frightened by our white skin! Ghosts!
A few days later, we returned to the preschool to visit them. Again we were welcomed with smiles and hugs. This time we had a few gifts with us. We took toothbrushes and toothpaste provided for our trip by our good friend and dentist Dr. Mastromatteo, photos of the first visit, and an envelope with a gift of money for the crèche provided by wonderful donors of Bakhita Charities. Notice the small one peeking out behind the caregivers’ back. That’s how a couple of the little ones spend their day. Others were enjoying a breakfast of oatmeal.
One of the real unexpected treasures of this adventure was an elderly man, Meshack, who volunteers for the crèche and has made a play area out of painted tires. He is so proud of his work, saying that those little ones need to exercise. He also patrols the grounds keeping everything neat and tidy and safe for the children. All the time he spoke with us, he was grinning with his four remaining teeth shining brightly. He was very happy just to be with us and to be acknowledged for his faithfulness to his community. These are very, very poor people, living in a backbreaking environment with not a lot of hope for their future. But, they are willing to share what they have and work hard at whatever they can do to improve the chances for their children. Truly a treasure.