I have spent just two days with the children of SMK, and already I have been taught some valuable lessons. When I first arrived at SMK I was greeted with overflowing love - and I might add overwhelming love. These children who have very few worldly possessions by American standards and who have lost one or both parents still have the courage to love and open their hearts to a stranger - an adult muzunga. This experience has helped me grow as a human being.
As some of the children and I began to paint the first dorm it quickly became clear that the older boys with whom I was working were very industrious and that they were quickly joined by some of the younger boys, who they taught how to paint. The dorm was not the sleeping quarters of either group - this is truly a community where everybody sees themselves as a family and they are not counting who had what but rather how to share in the excitement and joy of the others. While these children certainly have egos, they are willing to subjugate and rejoice in the greater good of their community.
A poignant story is one I observed. A very young girl walked by me smiling. She climbed up to her bed, pulled away her pillow and I quickly realized that this small child’s total possessions were under that very worn very dirty pillow. She found a small can, opened it up and took out a candy, popped it in her mouth, climbed off her top bunk, then smiled at me with her innocent face and her beautiful eyes – she was content and happy if just for the moment. Her smile, I believe, was related to the satisfaction of having something of her own. I thought of my own wonderful children and how blessed they are with so many physical possessions, but I realized that this small child’s life experience has taught her that moments of joy are to be savored and held onto, not to look for the next rush. I think I will never forget that child’s eyes and face as she was enjoying her sweet. But I assure you that I have thanked her many times afterward for the lesson.