It's sometimes hard not to have "favorites" when you face so many children day in and day out. And perhaps favorites isn't the best word, but there are certain children here that I connect with differently than others.
As promised, I wanted to give you a post every week about one of our new kiddos so you can meet the precious faces of the kids I am lucky enough to spend my time with everyday.
Gamali and Amenyo are a couple of those children that I just connect with. They are just flat-out adorable!
Gamali and his brother Amenyo were rescued from a village in the Volta region and were being used to bail water in their step-fathers boat. Their mother is the sister of a fisherman that we have been working with for over 2 years for the release of his fishing children.
When Gamali and Amenyo were identified, the primary concern was the treatment and health of the boys. Besides the distended bellies from worms and the child labor conditions, both boys had severe nutrition problems.
Amenyo, especially, faced some pretty dire consequences of the poor nutrition. His big belly, poor teeth, knobby knees, and protein-deficient hair, were enough to convince the mother to release the boys into our care.
The first day I met the boys, I was surprised at their size. Gamali is probably about 4 years old and Amenyo around 6 or 7. Usually, we don't see many boys Gamali's size out on the lake. In fact, when Gamali arrived, we didn't even have clothes to fit his small frame, expecting children closer to 10 years like we usually see on the lake.
The village that the boys were taken from has no electricity, no school, and no church. Instead, they have a hut that houses their village idol.
The first time I met the boys, I remember thinking how small they were. The second time I met the boys, they came running with big smiles on their faces for their hugs.
Everyday, we see Amenyo grow closer to a healthy life. He tires easily and falls down often. We fill him full of vitamin-rich drinks and formulas to add to his 3 meals a day. We are seeing a gradual improvement in his health. And we're realizing that the road to health for Amenyo will require time.
One of my favorite Amenyo moments was at our dance party a couple of weeks ago. It is not uncommon to see our older boys dress in funny costumes during these dance parties. Our tall Aaron had those zip-at-the-knee pants on. He took off one of the legs of the pants, hiked them up to his chest, and did a crazy chicken dance. Amenyo got up out of his seat and laughed so hard, he was doubled over. I looked at that beautiful face laughing and free, and laughed until tears were in my eyes. That was the perfect moment of freedom for that little boy! I loved it and wouldn't trade that picture in my mind for anything.
Some of my favorite moments with Gamali happen almost everyday. As I walk to or from the school, Gamali sees me and comes running, full speed, towards me. He throws himself at me with a giant leap and I catch him up in a giant hug. He'll wrap his arms around my neck and hang on like his life depends on it. I kiss him on the cheek and tell him I love him and then he wiggles down to go run and play again. This could happen everyday for the rest of my life and I would love it (though, when he gets to be 18 years old, I might not be able to pick him up anymore)!
These two boys have stolen my heart. Eager to learn. Smiles everyday. They are a joy to watch as they become the children that God created them to be.