Friday, September 4, 2009

filling us up

i can't see the end of the line.

that's the only thing that's running through my mind at that moment. children stretch down the basketball court and because of my height, i can't see if it ends there or keeps going. all i know is i see almost 700 eyes on us. on the windows that are dishing out dinner. we are like a machine, passing plates and bowls as fast as we can. hot broth spilling on our hands. bits of poshu (a corn flour mush) occasionally tumbling over the side.

"where is his plate?" ginger shouts into the kitchen. she is frustrated. i notice the "he" she speaks of. a small boy. maybe 6. maybe. tears have welled up but not yet spilled. he watches as bowl after bowl after bowl passes him by. his own lost in the shuffle of the kitchen somewhere. last night we ran out of food. i'm sure he can't help but wonder will it be me tonight?

he doesn't know we've purchased enough for the rest of the week. but darn it. where is this kid's bowl?

ginger shouts again into the steamy, bustling kitchen. i can't believe this, she mumbles as she passes another plate on, and reassures the young child again. it's coming sweetie. you have food coming.

i continue passing. children i have played with, joked with, laughed with, danced with... they wait. they barely make eye contact with us as we pass on their plates. broken, spilling, plastic, leaking dishes. i'm struck with the reality that these are children. in africa. who may or may not have parents. a home. a regular meal.

the sinking feeling that this is not right. it's not just. it's not fair. it's just not right.

eventually the young boys gets his meal. triumphantly ginger passes it on, thrilled to come to his rescue and he runs off to eat and still have some sunlight to play with his friends.

the emotions overwhelmed me at that point. dinner ended and i made my way back to the team. it's not just me. i sit and cry. and cry. and cry. ginger shows up after a few minutes, placing one arm around my shoulders.

it got to me tonight too, baby. it's hard. she nods. the stars are out now. it's dark and no one can see the endless stream of tears down my cheeks.

we're all getting wrecked at one point or another on this trip. i imagine the idea of us all bawling uncontrollably, inconsolably. words not making sense. no one to bring comfort. just a bunch of adults weeping over injustice, conviction, pain, selfishness.

we soon came to recognize the tear-streaked cheeks of one another. or the quiet reminisces, staring out the window that say "just let me be for awhile."

this is africa.


  1. geesh....what can I say? Nothing. But I'm here reading and appreciating.

  2. i am reading and crying as if i am there with you...oh my heart.