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Dear Zahra, Lessons From Africa

Uncategorized Dec 17, 2019

My heart is breaking this morning, Zahra because I miss you so much. 

I am on my couch crying with the feeling of missing. 

Wishing I could be with you. 

Really wishing you were here with me. 

I want to give you a warm bath, clean pajamas, a hot meal, and then rock you, sing you a lullaby and tuck you in. 

Your big sister too. She’s protective of you, and I can see why. 

You really shouldn’t cling to me, a stranger, the way that you do. 

Its probably not safe, and Big Sister knows better.

She can’t watch you while she is at school, so there you are, not even 5 years old making possibly unsafe choices out in the world alone. 

Your Mom is around, but she’s busy and she’s got things to do. 

Everybody has to do their work. 

Your job is to clean shoes. 

The only place to clean them is in this mud puddle. 

I watch you and I don’t know how you are doing it, but somehow you are washing those shoes in the mud, and they are getting clean. 

You are amazing Zahra. 

You are the smartest, sweetest, girl that I met in Africa. 

You are so resourceful too, and very brave. 

It doesn’t matter where I am, what I am doing, or who I am talking to, you somehow find me and take me by surprise by coming up behind me and putting your little paw in mine. 

Somehow without me even noticing, I look down and you have crawled up on my lap. 

You are so easy to fall in love with! 

Your pretty brown eyes and sweet disposition. 

You are tiny and yet powerful.

Little, light, petite and a force. 

You are not at all like my round babies, that have turned into tall teenagers, at home. 

Somehow it already feels like I belong to you. 

I would take you in and make you mine in a heartbeat!

Big Sister too, of course. 

The first thought I have about this idea, is your Mom.

I’m a Mom and I could never let anyone take my babies away.

So I think about your Mom, like she is my sister and my friend.

I couldn't take you away from her. 

Here’s the thing, your Mom is less selfish than me.

Your Mom would allow me to take you and bring you to America, give you a warm bath and new pajamas, even if it meant she wouldn’t be able to watch you grow up. 

She would give all this away for you to have experiences and resources that she doesn’t have. 

She wants the best for you, Zahra, even if that means taking you away from her. 

This is the most selfless thing a Mom can do. 

Even though she would do it for you in a second, I couldn’t do that for her.

She sees me, like you see me. 

An American, that took two plane rides to get to your village. 

Wearing big sunglasses, and western clothes. 

I have enough food, water, and shelter at my house for your whole, big, extended family and the neighbors too. 

Its true, its all true. 

I complain about big baskets of clean laundry that need to go upstairs and be put away.

You only have two hand me down shirts, which is one more shirt, than your friend has. 

You, your sister and your Mom want to come to America. 

I have always wanted to come to Africa. 

You have so many things in Africa that are missing in America. 

On the streets of your village, people sit outside and say hello to the people passing by. 

Everyone makes the time to be welcoming and kind. 

In some places in America, people don’t even look at each other. 

They keep their heads down.

They have their faces in the phone in their hands. 

They are always in a rush. 

In your village, drums could start beating and a whistle could start blowing, at anytime!

Everyone is encouraged to join in on dancing and celebrating and taking joy in the day. 

Celebration happens for no reason at all! 

In America, most people have to drink a lot of alcohol, to feel free to move their bodies.

In America we have to schedule a time for joy, which really isn’t that joyful at all. 

We usually cancel our joy plans, because something else comes up.  

In Africa, you live outside. 

Your kitchen is an open flame and your living room is your front yard. 

I love this. 

In America we live inside buildings, sky scrapers, big box stores.

Our homes have so much space, that our family members each have their own rooms. 

We don’t even go into all the rooms in our house every day. 

In Africa, you are much more connected and physically close to your family and friends. 

I love that about Africa. 

You are missing things like, electricity, clean water, and other important resources that contribute to health and longevity. 

You are not stressed out about this.

You seem to enjoy what you do have, and instead of focusing on what you don't. 

Americans are suffering from anxiety and depression, in part by, wanting it all. 

Once your basic needs are met, happiness is a state of mind, and as an outsider looking in, I think many people in Africa have that part down. 

Its the holiday season here. 

This is going to sound so spoiled, but I don’t want the stress of overconsumption. 

Your country has changed me. 

I don’t want anything for Christmas, except the college that my friend is building in your village, to be complete. 

I want you to have the opportunity to go to college in your village. Your sister too. 

I want to come back and visit you there. I want to sing and dance with your Mom at your graduation. 


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