The next morning when we left the village Karma showed up with nothing but the clothes on her back and no shoes on her feet. I caught myself having what my mom would call a “Jersey girl moment.”
“She doesn’t have a bag, a change of clothes, a picture she wants to bring? This is it?”
“Don’t you have anything else you want to bring with you?” I asked her.
I should have been used to it by now. Not one of the kids had come with a single belonging. It’s something that always surprises me and that I don’t think I’ll ever get used to.
The whole village had gathered for our send off. My pack was filled with soy nuts, and buckwheat, corn kernels, and potatoes that the villagers had given me for the journey. A few of Karma’s friends walked with us for a while through the fields to the outskirts of the village until we came to the path where we knew it was time to go our separate ways. We all came to a stop and looked at one another in silence. All of a sudden one of the little girls that had come with us, pictured in this blog, walked up to Karma and slipped the sandals off her feet.
“Lo,” was all she said. (Here)
Karma looked up at the girl with a very surprised look on her face. “No it’s okay, I’ll be fine without them.”
“Please take them. You’ll need them,” the little girl told her.
I watched Karma’s eyes well up with tears as she slipped her feet into the old worn sandals and said her final goodbye to the girls. Then she walked; up and down mountains, through rivers, and streams, and mud for three days with the sandals on her feet until we reached her new home. She walked with them to her first day of school when I took her to meet her new principal and her teacher in nursery class, and then for the rest of the week as I watched her write the alphabet, over and over and over again while the other children played or watched TV.
There are times when I get really discouraged. I think to myself, what am I doing all the way over here? Who am I in this world? There are so many kids and for every child that I keep or enroll in school, there were at least 100 others that I have to say no to. I never forget their faces.
I guess my point in telling this story is that there are little heros along the way that inspire me. These are the people that keep me going, and that give me hope in this world. I always think about the little girl that gave the shoes off her feet that day for her friend, not knowing if or when her next pair would come. I imagine her barefoot working the fields, or with one of her baby brothers on her back carrying water. She inspired me and touched my heart in such a big way.
Then there’s the girl in Bukhta’s story- the one who came and asked that I go and find him, this little boy she barely even knew, but had seen on the way to her village and wanted to help. She went with me to go and find him and he’s now living in a safe home with enough food and 19 brothers and sisters. He’s going to school and it’s only because of her actions. She took the time to stop by my house one day and introduce herself, a 16 year old girl studying to be a teacher. She is the REAL hero of Buhkta’s story. She changed Buhkta’s life forever and I don’t even know that Buhkta is old enough to know or understand that yet.
I recently got an e-mail from a beautiful Canadian woman whose name also happens to be Maggie. She had read my blog and was writing to tell me about an organization called “Facing the World” that does operations for children with facial deformities. She wrote the organization to tell them about Juntara, the little girl I wrote about in the “Ugly-beautiful” entry a few weeks ago. The next day I got an e-mail from Facing the World saying that Juntara was a candidate for one of their surgeries. Assuming that all goes well and I can get them a CT scan and an MRI, she could very well be flying over to London for surgery on her orbital brain tumor.
We are all connected in this beautiful world. We are connected by our actions towards each other.