Two days until I fly home and there are many thoughts and emotions in my heart and mind. It seems like it was only a few days ago that I was dodging motos and taptaps trying to reach the gold pick-up truck where Licia and Enoch were waiting. My expectations of what I would see had come from my television and laptop for the previous five months. Even that first drive past the tent cities and mass burial grounds seemed so very distant to me, almost as if I was still peering at things through a screen.
My first impression of the people, smells, scenery and way of life reminded me a lot of Uganda with a little more American influence. Less traditional outfits and more donated t-shirts and Crocs (LOTS of Crocs). I expected there to be more fluent English speakers but was surprised to find there are very few. I realized it has to do with the fact that Cazale is a rural community and don't have access (much less have the money to go) to the English classes in town.
My first experience in the Rescue Center was incredibly overwhelming. There were kids running up to me and tipping me over with these big smiles on their faces. There were other kids laying completely unresponsive on the mats, their only response was to blink. They were still too sick to hope to give a smile. I still (and probably never will) completely be able to feel for these kids...I have NO IDEA the kind of hell they are going through. I feel more connected to the problem of starving kids. I know their names, faces, hugs, kisses, giggles, cries and smiles....ooh their smiles!! With that said, I still cannot not wrap my mind around it's (poverty, starvation, neglect) affect on so so so so so many kiddos in this world. Sometimes those big statistics make me step back a little bit from emotionally connecting or caring because it just feels overwhelmingly impossible, because it is impossible. Then I look at each kid here, knowing that most all of them would be dead without the Rescue Center and am reminded that each ONE matter. Really, it's cliche...but it's deeply, deeply true.
Now, those kids have my heart forever and ever and ever. I have already shed tears knowing 50 footsteps will not bring me to their big, brown eyes and excited hugs.
Knowing that I will be home 72hours from now makes me SO excited! I cannot wait to see my family when they pick me up in O'hare and catch up with friends back home. I can't even describe to you how torn my heart is.
Now begins the journey of trying to live again...to find a new normal as I venture out as the same person, but at different person at the same time.