Skirt: Anthro Field
Flats: Steve Madden Heaven
Flower Pins: J. Crew
Rural South African villages...potted, dusty roads, wandering cattle, mud slab homes, asparagus fields on either side. We stop to talk to the children and share the candy hidden in our bags. They have questions for us.
Do you like the United States?
What's your favorite food?
Do you have children?
Have you seen Santa Claus?
What games do you like to play?
Do you eat a lot of meat?
How do you like South Africa?
Will you come back?
It's always humbling to visit other countries and have the children speak to you in English. We Americans are so catered to, no? We never have to work to have people understand us. These children chant melodies in both Zulu and English with beautiful, strong voices.
And of course, once the camera comes out, it's a mad scramble to get in front of the lens. They live in mud houses with dirt floors and one light (if that) in a room. They are eager, ready with a smile to be seen and heard. I show them pictures of my own children--so different from them, yet so the same. I am close enough to hug them--but not close enough to grasp the full picture of their lives.
My mind and heart are full. I hold my eyes wide open, unwilling to miss the smallest expression on their interesting faces and am blinded by the beauty of them--these children living in a country where their life expectancy is thirty years...my age.
A part of me is torn. Why do I spend so much time grumbling and not enough time living? Why should I not always smile? What exactly is my problem, anyway? What excuse do I have?
We sit on on the ground in this land where poverty resides across the street from wealth. One of the older children chants another song in a language foreign to me, but I can tell from the light in her eyes that it is a happy song.
I came here to touch a life and was touched by the children instead.