On Sunday October 23rd, Susan Ekeno’s life changed.
Two Land Cruisers pulled up to her grandmother’s hut and a group of strangers climbed out. We circled up around Susan’s family and talked quietly amongst ourselves. What did the paperwork say about this one? Her grandmother is taking care of her? I wonder if those are siblings standing nearby. How old did they say she is? Susan didn’t understand anything we were saying. She looked scared. I wonder what it was like before we arrived. Did she cry? Did she hug her family and neighbors? Was she excited? Was she nervous?
Thomas and Moses spoke with the grandmother, and then Steve called Troy and me over. Little Susan looked away as a strange white woman, a mizunga, knelt down and took her hand. I told her hello and rubbed her hand with my thumb – the same way I caress my own daughter’s hand. I looked at the small, dirty hand in mine and the contrast of her coffee black skin against my pale palm was stark.
We all joined hands to pray, take a few pictures, and then we left. I gave Susan’s grandmother a cross necklace with our promise to love her granddaughter and take good care of her. I pray about them every time they cross my mind.
As we got back in the truck, Lopite clung to Debra’s hand and skirt. We had picked her up first and I wonder what it was like to watch another child, familiar in appearance and language, but a stranger, get loaded up into the truck with her. They would be classmates, roommates, hopefully friends. Sisters meeting.
Susan never let go of my hand as we made the trek back to town. She sat up, back straight and eyes wide, watching the landscape fly by as it changed from the desolate bush to the relative busyness of downtown Lodwar.
By Wednesday, she’d fit in so well, it was almost hard to find her in the group. But I got to hold her hand and hug her and take some bright, smiling pictures together. I ache to see her and hug her again and I can’t wait to watch her grow into a beautiful young lady. I can still feel her hand in mind, and I cried when I called the SERV office to sponsor her.
On Sunday October 23rd, Susan’s life changed forever. And so did mine.
by RoseAnne Shiver