Today was a great day! The other volunteers, some mamas, and I took ten of the big toddlers swimming! We crammed 17 of us in one car and headed out to the pool. It was so fun! At first, almost all of the kids were a little nervous about the water, but by the end, it was hard to get them out of the pool! The mamas had a great time too. (It might have been even harder to get them out of the pool than the kids)! We are going to try to make this a weekly activity from now on. The happiness it brought was simply spectacular.
After swimming, I was walking home from the baby home and I was thinking, "So many of the children at the baby home have been abandoned, found wondering on the streets, but after spending three months total here, I have never seen an abandoned child on the street." I am not making this up or exaggerating AT ALL, but literally about one minute later, I saw this little tiny person walking in the middle of the road, all by himself. As I got closer, I realized it was a baby (probably about 18 months old)! He looked so scared, wearing only a t-shirt (no diaper, pants, or shoes). He had this little whimper with tears streaming down his cheeks.
I looked around, wondering if maybe he belonged to someone close by. There was no one around. There were a few men working across the street who also saw the little boy. They looked at each other and then watched him walk by. I thought, "Is this REALLY happening? Did I really just think about finding an abandoned baby and then I actually found one?!"
I heard a car coming behind me, so I quickly ran to the baby. Cars here have no mercy for pedestrians. They will drive at you at 40 mph (on a dirt road) and then you have to jump out of the way. Even when you are walking on the side of the road, they get as close as they can to you. It's scary!
Anyways, so I scooped up the crying baby and went to the men and asked if he belonged to them. They just pointed up the road, towards the baby home. Hmm...were they telling me he was abandoned so I should take him to the baby home, or did they know where he lived? Then, I looked at the baby again.
I recognized him! There is a woman (who lives the equivalent of about 2 or 3 blocks away)who we go to to have clothes, purses, blankets, etc made. I've been there twice since I have been here and both times this little boy would come in with his mother. I think his mother is friends with the tailor. It didn't immediately register that it was him as I picked him up to avoid the crazy car coming at us, but as I started walking with him, I remembered who he was.
I walked him straight home. The especially crazy part was that when I brought him home, his family and the other people that live near and were hanging out outside the house just laughed and said, "Asante sana (thank you so much)", very calmly, as if this wasn't a big deal at all.
I said in my most astonished and enthusiastic voice, "I found him over by my house! He was all by himself! Alone. Walking and crying by himself!" They kind of laughed at me and said, "Asante," again.
Only in Africa. Only in Africa. Good thing I recognized him. What if someone else found him? He would have been taken to social welfare and then ended up in an orphanage and my good friends over at the tailor would have a missing child!
Ahhh! Watch your children people!