The day started with a creeper next to me on the bus as I headed to the center, but for the first time I really stood my ground and at the end of it was happy with how I handled the situation. I didn’t get loud, but I didn’t stay quiet and I was pretty firm about my space. I had to assert myself a couple of times, but he finally seemed to realize that I wasn’t going to give in and he spent the rest of the ride that I was stuck next to him with his head resting on his hands on the seat in front, defeated. Still annoying to deal with, but happy to finally feel victorious at the end of one of these scenarios!
I chatted with Waheeba about it a little bit once I got to the center. She was very proud of me for having ‘courage’ like a local girl. Encouraged me to raise my voice next time. It was nice to be able to chat with her about that. And other stuff. She was delighted to share her wisdom and made sure I knew I’m like a daughter to her. For the first while I was there we sat side by side chatting and mending the boys clothes with holes. It was a joy.
Spent the day joking with the batch of new boys that came last week. (And the oldies, too). Tried to shower on them some of the love and attention they desperately need. I’m falling in love with a whole new set of precious trouble making boys with fuzzy heads.
This one new little boy, let’s call him Salaam, came last week. He was a crying mess. Withdrawn and dramatic, with little glimmers of smiling moments here and there. He is a new little boy this week. He’s active and happy. Ornery and loud. A little annoying to the other boys, actually, but they handle it well. He spent the day playfully taking my water bottle, walking on his hands, playing WWE with another little boy, and yelling for my attention. He’s really young, probably 6 or 7, and super cute with big ol’ ears and a gap in his mouth where he lost his first tooth last week. He had a big festering mess on his left leg last week and now with some proper care it is starting to heal up nicely. Waheeba was telling me that his mother and grandmother live on the street a little ways away. Poor as can be, addicted to glue, sickly. The center staff are starting to make more concentrated efforts to build closer relationships with the families of the boys so hopefully they can work to reach out to them as well soon.
Had a nice little drawing program with them in the afternoon. They’re so funny. And generally respectful. And seem to be fond of me. All good things. One of the newbies was shocked to find out that I was not Ethiopian, but in fact, an American. Then Salaam tried to steal a bunch of erasers. He was (not so subtly) stuffing them into his pocket throughout the program. I recovered most of them. Later one of the older boys that has been staying there during the break came and returned one that I’d missed.
In the evening two of the boys started fighting.With fists, not words. They got punished for it. The initiator was spanked with a stick a few times, as is the standard. Pretty gentle corporal punishment for here, really. Afterwards the boy was sitting outside by himself crying a little. My heart absolutely swelled as I watched Asbuur (who I’ve talked about here and here) go sit down and talk with and comfort this little boy. Asbuur seems somewhat aloof and maybe like he doesn’t care about a whole lot. I watched the interaction–older tough guy Asbuur (whom I admittedly have a soft spot for) comforting this new boy trying to adjust to center life and new people along with what assuredly is a tough past, likely involving abuse of some kind. A couple of years ago Asbuur was in the same place and it made my heart melt to see him investing in this little boy.
It was a day that I was able to sort of tangibly do some of the things that my heart longs to do. Loving on little ones that are desperate and starved for it. Laughing with them, chatting, mending their pants, sharing food, poking their bellies, and giving positive purposeful attention to them. A lot of times I sort of struggle with feeling helpless and pointless so a day like that is absolutely refreshing. And with passable Arabic to boot. Joy.