Last year, I spent 95% of my time at St. Mary Kevin behind my video camera. This year, with the luxury of having three weeks here, I am filming much less, yet seeing much more.
I have time to see the smiles on the children’s faces and the overall joy that abounds. More importantly, I have time to see the children for who they are inside and to forge connections with them.
I also have time to see the deep sadness within a number of these children. And what I see and feel breaks my heart.
We are all drawn to certain people, and to certain children, for different reasons – some obvious, some unclear.
From the moment I met Geoffrey, something drew me to him. He is ten years old, from war torn northern Uganda. Although he, at times, blends in with the other children, his pain sets him apart. His head is often down, he rarely makes eye contact, and there is not an ounce of light in his presence.
For some reason, I sense both his desperate sadness and his desperate need to connect. I just see something in him – it’s hard to explain.
Each day we have all made an effort to attend to him in some way: a special greeting, a hug, an invitation to join in our activities. Shyly and timidly, he has responded. Each day I see and feel a little bit of him opening up.
Yesterday, as our day ended, he joined the group of children to bid us goodbye. Although he stood off to the side, this was a first for him, and it was a small victory in my eyes.
I blew him a kiss, and much to my surprise and delight, he looked me straight in the eye and gestured back.
I saw something happen and felt something happen. Although my camera didn’t capture this, I will see this forever in my mind’s eye.