This week marks our third month in Aweil. Sometimes it feels like we’ve been here a lifetime. I guess I should say, we sort of fit in now. People all over town know who we are. That’s saying a lot for an NGO as they usually hide on their compounds for the most part. It does take a special grace to live completely among the natives because we are always, ALWAYS, a spectacle. Each night Emily and I walk to the little shop near our compound as they have power and so we get a cold coke to finish off our day. The same little kids all along the way scream the same thing night after night at the top of their lungs, “Kawaja, kawaja!”. Seriously I am not exaggerating. I cannot believe that they never tire of this, especially after three months. If I am going about town, walking, people ask me, “Where is your motorcycle?”. There are no secrets here!
I look at the resilience of these people and it causes me not to complain. There are people here who drag themselves along the dirt road because they don’t have a wheelchair. It is so hot here and the ground will literally burn my feet. Yet, here are these crippled people dragging along on all fours determined to get to their destination. They don’t sit around and cry about being handicapped. I saw a guy today who was in a wheelchair so his legs obviously don’t work. Also his right arm was crippled. So here he is bent all the way over at the waist using his left hand to paw at the ground in front of him to pull himself and his chair along, sweat just rolling down his face. This is normal life here. There are no handicap stalls or parking spaces or special needs help. It’s pretty amazing and I love how there is no shame. They just do what has to be done.
We are finally settling into a routine with the kids program and so I am now pulling at least one kid a day aside and listening one on one to hear their story. Meet Tang who is six years old, a cute round face who is usually pretty happy but has been very disobedient of late. He has burn scars all over his little chest and upper arms.
He lived with his parents and grandma and older brother, a happy family, in Khartoum, which is way way north in North Sudan. When the treaty was signed to separate the two countries, Tang was sent ahead to Aweil with his grandma and older brother with his parent’s promise of joining them soon. When Tang was about three years old his grandma died. During this time his mother also died in Khartoum. Soon after that his brother left to go back to Khartoum. Now Tang is on the streets on his own. He sleeps in the empty market place at night and begs for food during the day. He wants to find his daddy. I told him that I would do what I could to work with the social workers to accomplish this monumental task and for him to be patient.
Meet Obishen who is a ten year old girl.
She also lived in Khartoum with her mother and father. From what I can understand, she got separated from her parents somehow and was shipped as an orphan to Aweil. She left them alive and is longing to be with them again. I told her the same thing as Tang. Be patient as I start the process of talking to social workers to get these kids reunited with their parents.
This could never happen in American. Here, a street kid does not have an identity except, “street kid”. No one bothers to investigate their situations because they then might have to do something about it. This is a huge task because Khartoum is a huge city, the capital city of Sudan in the north. They are all Muslim and have been trying to get the “black” Sudanese out of their city. The parents of these two children could be anywhere, anywhere. God will have to make the way for them to be reunited, He just has to, that’s all there is to it. I will trust in Him for these two.