As I nestled down into a comfy bench on the front patio of our hostile, the birds resting in the tree above my head were chirping nonstop. It’s like they could feel the joy in my heart and were singing my tune. After spending the morning at Catholic Charities and extreme shopping at the .99 cent store for hygiene products to donate, we finally got to meet refugee families.
After leaving the first family, a family of ten from Somalia, we piled back into our ridiculously large van. We arrived at an apartment complex about five minutes down the road and were greeted by beautiful children extending their hands to welcome us. This family, was also from Somalia and was displaced to a refugee camp in Kenya for about eight months. They had arrived in Phoenix just four short months ago and were still adjusting to their new city.
This family had six children all aged eight and younger. The father spoke english although he was very soft-spoken and spoke directly to Aaron only (which is not uncommon for Muslim families). Upon realizing that the lines of communication were going to be very limited, I got up from my seat and sat on the floor in hopes that I could make friends with the children. Although I was met with great resistance, I managed to get a couple high fives and a few laughs.
The burnt orange headscarf made her beautifully dark eyes that much more piercing. The oldest, a sweet 8-year-old girl was the first to break the ice. She loved posing for Casey’s snapshots except she didn’t like to smile with her teeth. Some time had passed and she had brought out a jump rope–finally something that we all could do. After she did some showing off, I mean she could jump backwards after all; Caroline taught the kids how to play helicopter with the jump rope.
Not too sure on how much time had passed, but little by little kids of all different cultural backgrounds came trickling out of the apartments still dressed in their school clothes ready to join in our games. And there I was, sitting on pointy rocks in the middle of an epic game of duck duck goose with refugee children from Iraq, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Somalia. Parents and neighbors were watching us all play together, some even taking pictures and videos.
In my very first blog post for Eraseintdifference, I was asked to describe what I thought “good service” meant. Even as our van pulled away from the apartments as I watched all the children wave goodbye, I was still looking for the answer to this question. Was today an example of good service? We didn’t just hand these families the supplies we bought from the store yes, but did we really make a difference?
I think in this exact moment I finally have that answer. Before we said our goodbyes, Casey was in her element snapping picture after picture and the beautiful little girl who adorned the orange headscarf was smiling and posing much like she did in the beginning. This time was different though for she was REALLY smiling, white teeth and all. We didn’t just give, we took, and jumped, and ran, and played duck duck goose.