Today we stared out at the center most of the morning. We got to play with the kids for about 4 hours. Today was a holiday in SL so they had no class. We played soccer (I scored a goal and they started calling me David Beckham, just kidding, that was in my mind) and they drew pictures on some card stock we brought to take back with us. It was fun just relaxing with them. We are so surrounded by things to stimulate us it is fun to watch all of the games, songs, and activities they have created to have fun. You are very resourceful when you don’t have very many toys and no video games. The young boys even collected all of the sucker sticks from the other day and created a game with them. They taught me how to play but I sat out due to the fact that they were playing with 100 used sucker sticks.
I keep thinking we have done the best thing possible and then something else is on the schedule that tops it. What we did next was what saving the orphan is all about. We got to participate in an intake process. This is where a TRS social worker is referred a case, investigates to make sure the child qualifies, takes them from where they are currently living, and takes them through the intake process at The covering so they can call it home. We headed out to the east side of town and stopped in a very poor section of town. We walked down this dirt path and there were a few adults standing around with a scared looking little boy. How intimidating for a little child to have 11 white people and 4 Sierra Leonians come to take you to a place you have never been before. The TRS staff were incredible through this whole process. The little boy is 6 years old and his name is Sherif. We talked with the family a little while and the social worker informed us that his mother died in childbirth with his sibling, who also died, and his father abandoned them during her pregnancy.
His grandmother has been caring for him by herself since that time. They took us up to the top of the hill where he slept at night. Here are a few pictures of this so you can see Sherif before, his home before, him on his new bed with his new clothes piled at the foot, and him playing with the kids after only a few hours of adjusting. My heart broke when I saw his home. I don’t know how anyone could live in this little hole. It was actually a small sea crate that they had turned in to their 1 bedroom home.
He was so scared the whole time. He never said a word. He just looked around wide eyed and nodded his head when asked a question. Everyone was so gentle with him, but I know it was frightening. After getting some pictures of that place for his story we headed back down to where we met him and Quami, Tina, and Mohammed explained to him and his grandmother about TRS and where he was going to live. You could see the weight being lifted off of her. She was so happy for him. All he did was sit their and nod until Quami asked him if he was ready to leave and he jumped up off the stool. He is very malnourished and the fingers on his right hand were all cut up and bloody. We asked how he hurt his hand and they told us he picked up rocks to earn money for food. Are you kidding me….. God bless The Covering.
We headed back to the covering and arrived before Sherif and Mohammed. The children planned a welcome ceremony for him and when he slowly walked through the gate they surrounded him and started hugging him telling him that he was welcome at their home. It was one of the most precious things I have ever seen. Sherif was taken inside, given some food, water (he drank 3 bags of water), a bath, and some new clothes. We bandaged his hand and he went upstairs and just kind of sat back and watched the kids play for a couple of hours. He just had no energy and I’m sure he was trying to take it all in. It is a dramatically different place than where he was a few hours earlier. It was incredible to watch him change before our eyes. He slowly got more and more energy and by the time we left he was playing with the other kids and I think I even saw him smile when we broke out the bubbles. It is something I will never forget. His grandmother was invited to come visit so she could see where he would be saying and she was brought to tears she was so happy for him. I thought it was really great that Mohammed and Quami invited her to come see too. It kind of nips any child trafficking rumors in the bud when something like that happens. There was a reporter there to document the process and I think he was shocked at how well it was handled and it gave TRS some major street cred.
We spent the rest of the afternoon playing with the kids some more. We taught them duck duck goose and they taught us how to dance. They sang a bunch of songs and played a lot of games. We got to meet Pastor Daniel who is the head caregiver who has been out of town at a conference. He is really wonderful with the kids and you can tell they really love him too. He was the one leading all of the games and playing the drums for the dances. We headed back after a shorter, but equally tiring day and ate some dinner and now everyone is furiously trying to type blog entries before the internet goes down again. Thanks to everyone who is reading and praying. You can email me at Andrewsisco@gmail.com if you need to.