You will never get over Africa.
That's what my precious friend, a missionary, told me when she found out we were moving to Guinea.
She is right. But even if I did get over Africa, I will never get over Mahawa.
Our balcony looks over our wall into our neighbor's courtyard. Two little girls, who appear to be about 3 and 8, live there. Many days we will wave to get their attention and beckon them to go to the gate where my girls will deliver candy and cookies or other treats. Our only connection to them has been smiling and waving from a distance and the brief moments when their hands exchange the goodies.
Yesterday when my girls left to deliver candy canes, they came back with a message. The girls want to know if they can come over to play.
I couldn't say yes fast enough! We ran outside to bring them in. The little beauty was enamored with WildHeart's baby doll and immediately tried to put the baby on her back to carry around. CurlyGirl helped tie the baby on.
I asked our friend and guard to help us translate. He was able to speak to the smaller girl, but had trouble with the older. Her name is Mahawa, he told me and she doesn't speak French. She only speaks a tribal language. She was sent in from a village to live with and work for this family.
I could hardly believe it. I knew she didn't go to school and found that strange since this family is somewhat wealthy by Guinean standards. Now it made sense. The reason I never saw her held or dressed pretty or given the attention like the younger girl was because she is not their litttle girl---she is their servant. The little girl is always dressed up with braided hair and pretty dresses. Mahawa's hair is always shaved off and she is never dressed up.
I tried to ask her how old she was. She seemed confused. Finally, she said she was six.
Now, I was confused.
She looked older than that...closer to CurlyGirl's age.
My guard said, "she's not six. She probably has no idea how old she is."
I was sick.
If she doesn't know how old she is, then how do they celebrate her birthday?
I thought of CurlyGirl. Two houses right next to each other--two little girls, probably the same age, but the contrast of their lives couldn't be greater.
CurlyGirl doesn't make it a day without an abundance of hugs and kisses and "I love you's".
Her birthday is a huge ordeal and anyone who has seen her hair knows that it is a major project every day!
My Man and I always pray for her and over her.
We tell her she has been called out by GOD.
No one even fixes Mahawa's hair.
I realize how sad this sounds. You would think that is strange if you met her because sad isn't a word you think of when you are with her. She is extremely happy. She behaves with a grace beyond her years.
She is lovely.
I don't know what to do with this one. All I can think right now is that I am thankful to live by her. She may not have known spoiling and hugs and birthdays before...
but the Smiths are in town and things are about to change....