The party was a lunch, a dance and a gift-giving for the kids who we Belgians and Canadian are sponsoring in Toubacouta. Balloons were hung, streamers were streamed, fancy tablecloths and napkins graced the tables, and joyous music was bipbopping out of the speaker.
Girls did their hair in magical ways. They wore the brightest dresses and shirts. One boy even wore a bow tie!
For awhile I made faces with some of the kids and played the game where we’d hide behind someone sitting between us and then poke our heads out. Such fun. Some children were nicely shy while others bubbled over in their eyes. Some danced in the middle of the circle for maybe a minute. Others were pushed in there by friends and quickly scooted back to the edge of things. Mr. Bow Tie really rocked and rolled as we all cheered him on.
There was lots of lunch prep and I loved joining in. I was the only guy to do so but who cares? I sat with some girls and women and peeled onions. And there were no tears! So different from home. Next were cloves of garlic and I got to experience the impact of arthritis on my fine motor skills. I was slow and clumsy but again all of that was irrelevant. I finished with beans. Many hands made for light work as the sounds of Warlof and Flemish filled the space.
Several women distributed the various yummy food on plates in the kitchen. I got to be one of the lucky ones who presented the meal to individual kids. The whole idea was that the day would be special for the children. We served them. Before the meal we gave them the best seats on the patio. Here’s a pic I love:
After we ate, the balloons clearly needed to become soccer and volleyballs. The young’uns leapt in the air and in their hearts.
At one point, I just sat back and took it all in. Two years from now, will I be bilingual? Will I be spending a few months each year in Toubacouta, teaching these very kids how to speak English? I don’t know … but the possibility is real.
Who knows what journeys lie ahead … in my life, and in yours. Let us embrace the mystery.