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Day 14: Local Zoo

The very real struggles of life and of simply being human do not end when half a world away. The now familiar sound of roosters welcoming the day is followed by grudgingly releasing myself from bed and pouring endless cups of synthetic energy. Not all interactions are joyful like in the photos. Not all days are pleasantly spontaneous. Today however, pulled me out of my thoughts right into the loving embrace of a thankful child. I had been looking forward to the opportunity to volunteer with the kids on swim day and the timing could not have been more perfect. She pokes my arm in the waist deep water to grab my attention. I pick her up and she points at another volunteer helping a little boy learn to swim. On my hip, little hands clasped around me, I take her to the shallower end of the small pool. I ask her to show me how she swims; a few promising kicks and no arm movement was more than I had anticipated. I placed my palms around the edge of the pool and start to kick in an effort to show her how that movement helps keep my body afloat. She copies me followed by an adorable giggle. I take her hands in mine and drag her across the water so she can practice and get a sense of what swimming feels like. I show her the different ways her peers are swimming and place her torso in my arms so she can practice the stroke and kick simultaneously. She didn’t really learn to swim with my less-than-informative efforts but trying with her was too fun. This attempt at teaching was one in many that day, as the kids were so excited to learn a new skill and play with the volunteers in a setting outside of the school. Few days really captured the essence of humanity quite like today.

The love and appreciation shared between volunteers and the kids became a catalyst for the sounds of joy that rang out from all sides. The connections made on days like these hide notions of difference too many keep within them. A beautiful reminder of what putting love out into the community can do, the reward of today were all the smiling faces and being a part of that joy. Not all days are difficult. The very real struggles of life and simply being human can end when experiencing life alongside others half a world away.

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