It is a week before I leave and my focus has shifted from “me” “me” “me” – my visa, my packing, my shots, my shoes to a wondering about the kids I will see and meet – the children young and old who will let me into their lives to play and learn and love.
I was thinking of how easy it is to relate to kids here in the US. Old and young we have so many shared stories, memories and fantasies. Most of us have some familiarity with fairy tales like Cinderella, Snow White, Peter Pan and thanks to Disney’s somewhat sacrilegious but entertaining versions we know the Hundred Acre Woods and the friends of Winnie the Pooh. Many of us learned or taught our children ABCs with the help of those fuzzy Muppet creatures. As children most of us drew pictures of houses and gardens and rainbows and tall trees where little birds built their nests. Generations of us can hum the theme to Star Wars and most young kids know what to do if you put a light saber in their hands.
We can dream of castles, wizards, far off planets, pirates, voyages under the sea and following a flock of dancing penguins across Antarctica.
One of my favorite childhood memories is my dad sitting on the edge of my bed in the dim light of my bedroom reading from a giant blue Mother Goose book. His deep soothing voice washing over me like a warm breeze until I fell into a deep sleep and dreamt of fairies, magic kingdoms and make believe lands full of lollipop trees and gumdrop highways. I know I have a US centric view and probably more narrow and unrealistic – a Southern California beach gal centric view. But I also know that wherever there is community and consistency there is culture. Indigenous tribes, remote villages in Nepal, native cultures around the world have stories that are told, songs that are sung. There is a visual language of expression passed from generation to generation.
But for children who grow up in vicious poverty on a dump piled high with the cast off garbage from others dreams – what do they dream of? For a child who wakes every day hungry and is driven all day long to find a way to end that hunger if just for a moment, for children who grow up in war torn areas where bombs, body parts and death is their everyday experience, for these children I wonder when they close their eyes at night what do they see, what images fill their dreams. And when they are awake what are their imaginings? What visuals fill their hopes?
As I get ready to leave I imagine these children at CCF as beautiful, exotic creatures of another land. It’s like Scuba diving. I am immersing myself in a world I do not know. I will be swimming about in a constant state of awe and discovery. Love will be the oxygen I breathe and playful friendship will be the currency of exchange. And if I want to get up close and personal. if I want to have those moments of intimacy and connection then I must move quietly, lightly…
Find more stories from Ardice Farrow’s experiences in ‘Ardice Abroad’.