Thursday, July 28, 2011

Some Things Are Certain

                Many things are very different when you change countries, cultures, and capitals.  Because of all these widespread and sometimes unsettling differences it is comforting to see what aspects of humanity transcend silly things like languages, races, and national borders.  From what I’ve seen there are three things that are pretty universal.

                Smiles open other people up.  There is a lot of tension in the world.  People are angry and suspicious of other’s motives and are predisposed to be untrusting.  That’s where smiles come in.  I feel that a genuine, heartfelt smile that shows up all the way in your eyes is one of the best ways to open up a dialogue even if you aren’t speaking the same language.  Smiles say in every language “Hey!  Wanna be friends?”  Smiles go a long way to dissolving tensions and can remind everyone that we are all in this crazy world together.

                Music and dancing.  Who doesn’t like music?  I know people are baffled by other’s choices in what they choose to call music, but everyone likes a good beat.  And dancing.  Whether you’ve got skills or not, it is just fun to get your groove on.  I think that music speaks to everyone on a basic, human level that is beyond understanding.

                Children are the same everywhere.  Despite the diversity of ideas that surround how to “properly” raise a child and what morals are important to imprint upon them, young children are remarkably similar across cultural divides.  They want to play, they want to know about everything, they want to be seen, they want to be loved.  It is nice to know that however much we all change, we all began life with the same basic motives.

                You know what combines all three of these fantastic things???  That’s right!! CAMP SONGS!!  People singing, dancing, and smiling as they entertain children.  They’re wonderful, they’re fun, they’re certain to be a hit.  One Saturday I accompanied a fellow intern to a group meeting for the caregivers of children who are HIV positive.  The meeting is just for the caregivers but the kids come too because there is nowhere else for them to go.  Our mission was to entertain/occupy the roughly 70 kids for about four hours.  Ha!  And they call this work :)

                We started slowly with some easy songs they could sing along with and maybe understand, then we realized that they weren’t understanding the words anyways so we switched to songs that were more fun and expressive even though they had a few more made up words.  “Princess Pat”, “Going to Kentucky”, “Tarzan”, and “Little Sally Walker” all made an appearance among other favorites.  Ask your nearest camp acquaintance for a rendition of these if you don’t already know them.  The kids loved them!!  The more I acted like an idiot, the louder they sang between the giggles.  Their approximations to what the words were as well as their dance moves were a textbook definition of joy.

                Being the size I am basically places me squarely in the role of a conveniently mobile jungle gym.  Whether I am here playing with orphans or at home causing trouble with my adorable nieces and nephew, my greatest child-interaction talent stems from the fact that if they can climb me they’ll be much taller than the other kids.  Individually, the children here are shy and reserved around the giant muzungu.  However, they travel in packs.  The mob mentality takes over and my height advantage counts for nothing against 30 squealing children.  But they are just so darn cute!!  They have this very effective group hug maneuver which almost guarantees that I’ll end up on the ground amidst a laughing pile of children who just barely missed being crushed.  

                These children are looking at a lifetime of battling a chronic disease that will cause far-reaching problems in every aspect of their lives.  However, for at least four hours they weren’t HIV positive children.  They were just children.  The same kind we have in the States.  Children that laugh when they are flipped, cry when the fall, tell jokes that don’t make any sense, ask multiple questions without taking a breath, and whose joyful smiles and certainty of their own specialness make any day or situation infinitely better.  Some things are certain.
                What is certain in your life?

1 comment:

  1. Lindsey Junk making me smile is pretty darn certain in my life. Thanks for choosing joy:)