Nothing hits you harder than seeing the type of poverty you’ve read about, seen films of and researched. The salty desert sand touched my lips and stuck on the busride back to the hotel.
After our talk with Eid we were given time to walk about the camp and school yard. I wandered off on my own a little bit with both cameras (digital and film) around my neck and my backpack hanging behind me. I took an entire roll of film about the camp: from the broken playground equipment to the shack-homes themselves. After a few minutes I noticed I had a small posse growing behind me. Little girls from about 3-7 years old dressed in mis-matched outfits covered in desert dust and smiles kept pointing to my backpack with clever grins. I hadn’t realized we would be visiting the camp: otherwise I would’ve brought something like stickers or notebooks to give but all i had was my cameras, hand lotion, water bottle and hand sanitizer. The girls started grabbing at my backpack so I turned and kneeled in the land to be at eye level.
The language barrier didn’t stop us from communicating. I realized them grabbing at my travel sized hand sanitizer hanging off my backpack and offered each of the half a dozen girls a bit. I motioned for them to rub it in and as they did they smiled and then their faces changed to ‘what is this?!’ They ran around in circles laughing in childish disgust. But then a moment later came back for more. I didn’t have much left at this point so i pulled out hand lotion (in which I had plenty more of back at the hotel) and offered each one a droplet. As I stood to walk with them they starting pointing and laughing. I looked down to see my black leggings covered in desert dust: a tan hue spread of dirt across m boots and shins. Laughing along with the girls i patted my knees removing most of the dust but needless to say I will need to wash them upon return.
I suppose the dust that wore into my knees was similar to the impression i got from the camp. Although i had to leave and brush off the dirt: their desert dust has wrapped a layer around my heart.
Although i was only able to give temporary delight to the children through means of a little hand lotion and hand sanitizer i want to someday return with more useful supples such as books and new clothing to the girls.
Can this really only be day one?!
*typos courtesy of my iPhone