|Lizzie and GCM member, Henry|
by Lizzie Fleming
It’s so odd to be referencing the movie Frozen in a land that sees no snow.
Kiziba refugee camp has many problems. I can’t deny that, especially after being approached by children asking for everything from water to a bike. But the love present in the camp and shown towards us throughout our time there was so incredibly strong, I don’t have anything else to compare it to. If I had to describe it, I would say it was without boundaries.
We started our day playing the board games we brought with the refugees who participated in a small beginner English class. Kate and I took out one of the Scrabble boards, and I was incredibly nervous to play a game centered around language with a group of people who were just learning English for the first time. While the whole concept of connecting the words seemed a little lost on those we played with, they formed words with relative ease and seemed incredibly eager to participate. When we’d occasionally correct their spelling, they thanked us profusely and seemed happy to know rather than embarrassed by their mistake. One man spelled out the names of countries ranging from Europe to Africa to Asia, and he named countries I couldn’t even point to on a map. We even did a round that was food specific, and it was fun to teach each other foods local to our continent that the other had never even heard of. When the time for games was over, all of them grasped my hands and thanked me for my patience with them. I felt as if they truly appreciated the help I’d given, even if we only sat for about a half hour.
|Lizzie and Kate play scrabble in the library|
Walking back to the library where we’d meet with the youth, I had two kids grab my hands to accompany me down the hill. They didn’t say anything, which was typical of the kids there that spoke little English, but the simple gesture of grabbing my hands said enough. I tried to coax conversation out of them as best as I could. However, most of our walk passed in silence. Now this may just seem like kids looking for a little attention, but when they left after their mother called them, two young women even older than me that I played basketball with picked up where the kids left off and helped me down to the bottom of the hill.
I hope it’s not hard to see why I felt such love overflowing from the people of Kiziba. And the message of this blog isn’t that the people of Kiziba are happy despite their troubles. Because people aren’t happy - there are problems that no one’s working to solve, and not everyone has hope for a future outside the camp. But that doesn’t mean these people can’t teach us a thing or two about loving through the usual walls that separate us.