A hope for the future…
Now that Gabriel, Juan, Angelica, and Alejandra
have been properly introduced,
it’s time to say goodbye.
But I hope you won’t forget us,
nor the other kids at the children’s homes,
but that you will keep us in your thoughts and prayers
as we continue on this journey called life.
Back at the children’s home, Gabriel was quite the fighter.
He and his twin sister had been found beside a river.
He made it, but tragically his sister didn’t.
(Kumasi, Ghana, West Africa)
On my first day of walking to work at the hospital,
I met a group of children who would end up becoming my daily escorts.
This was a moment captured while the vigilant residents
inspected my suspicious-looking digital device.
Each word, a slap.
Each consonant, piercing.
Bursting in like a winter’s storm,
you permeated into our lives.
We wanted to help you,
but we only came to fear you.
Many shook their heads in pity.
Some avoided you.
Others talked about you.
Each gesture, scornful.
Each insult, stinging.
My attempts to talk to you
only seemed to anger you more.
You terrified me. Yet I yearned.
To see. To know. To understand.
I knew you were frustrated.
Your disease, unforgiving.
I knew you were discouraged.
Your body, powerless.
But why wouldn’t you let us care for you?…
As a volunteer, Puppydoc made it one of her duties
to make all the little people smile.
Sometimes it worked.
Sometimes…not so much.
(Ambaro, Madagascar) Although this family treasured life and found joy in the simple things…it is no lie that each day was still a struggle.
What do I hear when I bring you to my ears?
What story does your body unveil?
I hear your heart,
the clap of each valve,
sloshes of vigor from lumen
to chamber to reveal
resilience and strength.
I hear your lungs,
the whisper of bronchi,
each crackle, each wheeze
unearthed with your breaths
to expose a hundred secrets.
I hear your bowels,
the timbre of that song,
divulging their activity
to massage a burden
through labyrinthine depths.
I hear your thyroid,
the swoosh of velocity,
fluid chased through vessels
to evoke visions of an
I hear your liver,
a resounding echo
against my fingers,
betraying your history
by disclosure of its girth.
So what do I hear when I bring you to my ears?
I hear the story that is your life.
Our village specialized in ‘bageda’…sweet potatoes. After harvesting them, we would bring them to the market and trade them for maize. Though only Hanitra and Puppydoc are pictured here…the entire family worked very hard.
I met you my intern year. I remember the first thing you said to me.
“I don’t care to be here.”
With a countenance creased from decades of hardship, a gait staggered from illness, eyes steeled by sufferings, your restrained presence betrayed a sheath impervious. I believed you previously had poor experiences in similar settings, because you told me so. I knew you didn’t trust me, because you told me so.
Our first few visits were stippled with formality. I posed questions; you answered. But they weren’t your answers, but perhaps words you knew I wanted to hear. I half expected you to stop coming. But you never did. Instead, you continued to sit there, guarded, a portrait of cordiality and cautiousness.
And then one day it happened…
(Faux Cap, Southern Madagascar)
When Puppydoc first arrived at her new home, the villagers were a tad bashful…but this issue resolved itself rather quickly.