We all held hands and prayed that God would bless the land and the crops. When the prayer was over, my prayer buddy didn’t let go of my hand.
She and I walked hand-in-hand, along with some other children, back to the church. Some of the women and smaller children loaded up in our Kambi and drove behind us. When we reached the top of the hill, the Kambi was following pretty close behind. We had to walk on the main road because the grass was over three feet tall. Some of the older kids in front of us started running to get out of the way of the vehicle. I thought it’d be fun, so I took off running. My girls walking with me started giggling and ran to catch up. That sprint is one of my most cherished memories from this trip. Barbi, our trip coordinator said, “Elizabeth, I wish I had been able to capture a picture of that moment. It was so beautiful to see you running with those children.” It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a girlie girl and don’t like to be sweaty, dirty, or mess up my hair. My time in Swaziland was the polar opposite of that... It was freeing. It was awesome.
After we left the garden, we went to Gigi’s Place. They feed street children everyday at 3pm. We sang songs for the children in siSwati (“Yebo u Jesu, u Yangi Thanda, u Yangi Thanda, Ichwandi Ishola” “Yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so”) and taught them some songs in English (“Deep and wide” and “Peace like a river”). They love anything with hand motions.
I learned a very cool lesson at Gigi’s Place because of this little girl: words are overrated.
After we finished the songs, I wanted to tell her that I really liked her dress. But of course, I had no clue how to say that in siSwati. Instead, I made a cutesy face and flicked my skirt towards her. What transpired next made me, and the rest of our group, grin and giggle. This little one looked at me and flicked her dress back at me with the exact same expression on her face. We went back and forth, flicking our skirts, for probably 2 or 3 minutes. Each time, I would change the expression on my face and she would mimic it.
After Evelyn (one of the HIV/AIDS task force women) explained to the children why we were there, they all lined up with their plastic bowls to receive the food we were there to serve. It was a pretty cool day; because of the money we had given to Gigi’s Place, the children were able to have fried chicken with their rice, beet salad, vegetables, and slaw. Protein items are very expensive, so it was a treat that day for them.