The sky is threatening rain but we pack up our instruments and craft stuff and pile into the Kia. We all know the children will be waiting.
We walk through the narrow corridors as we always do before we start, calling the children. The white visitors have an affect like the pied piper. The children know they will be hugged by any one of them. They thirst for that human touch. Some of them only know the pain a slap or punch brings. But our touch is soft and gentle. I believe it brings healing.
So much can happen in a week here. In the basketball court, there is a wake. A drunken man who fell and died instantly. I saw him just last week.
Two weeks now, Ate Letty lays in her coffin. It is reality that sometimes they cannot afford to bury their dead. And they will wait hoping someone will have pity. All the while, the body sits. The candle burns. The old women sit and pray for the dead one’s soul. Their voices drone on as we walk past.
A mother shows me her little one. Fever. Runny nose.
An older woman, with severe asthma hugs on my neck begging for medicine.
A sick man calls out for medicine. He is throwing up blood.
A little boy hides off in the shadows. I grab his hand and hand him to one of the team. He looks up, a grin.
And one of my patients who recovered last year from tuberculosis takes my hand, desperate for me to see his friend. He is dying and I am left to explain the pile of medical papers. I explain carefully, slowly. And talk about his soul. He weeps. To be paralyzed in bed, wasting away is frightening. We pray for him.
I am quietly amazed at how many people we know, how many miracles I see, how many call out for help.
And we see little Princess, a little girl that stayed with us for a month for nutritional rehabilitation. She is doing beautifully.
And all the while, the children hang from any hand they can grab.
And Team Koza and Team Nehemiah, the young short term volunteers, each here for their own reasons, dance in the rain, too, the children, heads back, laughing from within.
For just a moment, there is innocence, beauty, and love in this place of darkness, pain, and fear.