Monday, August 15, 2011

Bubbles and Balloons

Life is a serious game for children in East Africa. I see a six-year-old child with a baby wrapped on her back. I watch a girl of five doing her laundry in a basin filled with murky water. I walk by a four-year-old child straining under the weight of two water containers…I can’t help but carry her burden. On one hand, I see these children modeling the behaviors of their mother. They’re learning how to live life in their country and to survive. On the other hand, I wonder if these children have time for joy. The answer must be yes, right?

I hear the voices of screaming children wherever I go. Most of the time the screams are gleeful…on occasion I send one child running home in fear. I watch children pushing a round upright tire down a hill using a y-shaped stick. I watch children pushing empty plastic bottles around on the ground using a long stick inserted through the opening of the bottle. I see children pulling one another on jerry cans cut in half with a banana leaf rope tied to the handle…like a sled or skateboard.

Bubbles and balloons are simple fun for children, they’re new. Bubbles continue to render children motionless in wonder. I’ve yet to find a group of children who knew enough to chase after and pop those tiny bubbles without being told. They have fun. For a few minutes in their busy day, these children get a reprieve.