Every now and then we have a day that we want to forget. Or remember. A day that is so out of the ordinary, so different, that it strikes a cord in our hearts and minds and plays a tune that makes us smile or gives us pause. Today was one of those days.
Not knowing what to expect, we drove almost 2 hours to a remote province where we walked down a dirt road to a hidden school haven with children waiting. All were in uniform, white shirts, pants, skirts ad blue ties for both boys and girls. Somewhat unexpected. Where were the poor and the isolated? Where were the malnourished and the weak? Where were the sick? Wait for it. They were there, but hidden behind smiles and a sense of community in a school that offered an education and an opportunity to pursue a better life than the one the children were born Into. And now here is the picture seen behind the uniforms and the smiles. Severe effects of malnutrition resulting in stunting. Children who looked like they were 5 years younger than what they really were. A 9 year old who was the size of a 6 year old. A 12 year old who looked like a 7 year old. Short stature with long term effects. Girls who will deliver prematurely once they become women and get pregnant. Boys who will grow up with weakened physiques limiting them to vocations that they may not be given an opportunity to succeed on. The pictures here are of how children are affected. Healthy looking on the outside but compromised for life due to malnutrition before the age of 5 years. The tragedy behind the veil of presumed health.
We left feeling like we impacted lives. First aid training given and first aid kits left behind. A water filtration system left behind. Dental hygiene taught and toothbrushes left behind. Medications given and left behind. Children with illnesses identified who needed advance care sent to facilities who could help. Love and validation that they were children who deserved nothing less than that they were children who were treasured and cared for and cared about. All 462 of them. Yes, we saw, played with, treated, cared about and loved on 462 children. Today. What a day. A day of sadness behind our smiles knowing that the children were going to be what they were, stunted, for the rest of their loves. A day of happiness for leaving something good behind. A day so out of the ordinary that it made us both smile and give pause. Bittersweet, but what a wonderful day all the same.
In all things give thanks,