My friend, L, who was here the first 3 months I was sent me a package and in there she put a bag of those sour patch watermelons. Though they go against everything I believe about eating non processed food…I still like them. I decided to take them to the younger boys center to share. Thus getting to enjoy them, not eat the whole bag myself, and getting to share something with these little boys that I’m just smitten with. I wasn’t sure how they would fare because they don’t have sour stuff here. With the exception of one of the teachers they all seemed to like them. One of the boys kept asking me how much they were and where he could get some and if they sold them at the ducaan here. I’m a big fan of one of the staff, Z. He’s one of those people that is always genuinely happy to see you and is great with the boys and just has a sweet lighthearted personality. He was really excited to try this American candy. He tried it and then said “Long live America!” Which is particularly amusing because he doesn’t have a whole lot of English. Then he asked for one to take home to his wife and I gave him some for his kids as well and he tucked them into a piece of paper and put it it his pocket. It was precious.
It is not uncommon for the new boys to not know how to read and write. Mostly with the younger boys, but some of the older ones too. One of the older boys has been at the center now for about 6 weeks. He’s about 15. He doesn’t know how to write his name. On the first day that I was doing the art lesson he refused to even pick up the pencil for the first half hour. I told him all he had to draw was one line and that would suffice. Eventually, finally, that day he drew some very basic shapes and things just to get me off his case I think. Every week he has been trying a bit more and a bit more. The last few weeks when he gives me his paper he always seems genuinely pleased and relieved when I tell him he’s done good work. He always smiles and seems pleased with himself. As he should! It’s always exciting to see people grow and improve and try new things.
On a similar note, the last few weeks I have been giving the director of the older boys center computer lessons. It started kind of impromptu. Someone gave him an old laptop. It still works pretty well, just looks a little worse for the wear. It started with him asking me how to turn off the password feature and change a few settings. Now we are up to making a table in a Word doc. It’s fun. There is so much I take for granted that I grew up learning how to do.
One of the girls that I befriended while the drop in center was going on came by one day this week. She’s like 13 with a 2 year old son. Some 20something boyfriend who lives on the streets as well and is currently in prison. I was so happy to see her. We chatted and ate together. She’s just a kid, really. Love that I’m friends with her. That’s a first step. Hoping to build that relationship more. Would love to see her and her little boy off of the streets.
Awkward Things (AKA Probably not as important stuff, but amusing all the same):
Climbing out of the front of the bus and getting my shoe caught in the bottom of my dress. Pulling on my dress to get my foot out because the only other option is toppling over the people between me and the door. Getting my foot out but accidentally flashing too much leg to a bus full of conservative men. Goooood job, Beth.
Two of the married male teachers told me yesterday that at the prayer meeting the group prayed that I would find a husband soon. I got embarrassed. My face went red. Spent 5 minutes trying to explain what embarrassed meant because in Arabic it is the same word they use for confused. This is not the first time that they have shared their concern that I get married and their confusion as to why I’m not already.
This was topped, however, the very next day when I was at my language helpers house. She ended up not being there (long story) and there were at least 40 members of her extended family there who are in town for an upcoming wedding. Ended up sitting next to some 80something year old relative who was nearly impossible to understand for 2.5 hours. This lady could not believe I wasn’t married and literally pointed to one of the youngerish male relatives who walked by and said in all seriousness “What about him?” What do you even say to that? Awkward. Apparently weddings are even worse for that. So I’m preeetty stoaked to go to this wedding by myself tomorrow with 900 other people and no other foreigners. Oh boy.
I don’t know if it’s awkward exactly, but it sure is entertaining. During the repairs and repainting following the fire our landlord basically made the calls about replacement decor. Let me just say that the local aesthetic and my own are not one in the same. They are big fans of gaudy. Suffice to say that now all of our repainted walls (living room, guest room, kitchen, bathrooms) are in two shades of peachy orange. Our new overhead ceiling fans have many gold accents. Our new lights have gold accents. Our light fixtures on the wall are incased lightbulbs with gold leaves and stems with the light as the flower. Yikes. Our landlord was so excited to show us all of this stuff he picked out though. I was good at acting like I loved it too. Oh well. Just happy that my room didn’t need any renovations, too!