Meeting Martin and Lillian

July 5, 2011–After 3 long days of travel: 3 flights, several bus rides, a couple of overnights, driving on the same dirt road through the Katakwi district, for what seemed like forever, all we could tell that morning through the windows of the bus is that things were getting more and more rural and we found out later that that we were two hours outside any power source. The cattle and goats roam free and mommas carry all manner of things on their heads while babies were tied to their backs. We’d been traveling this way for what seemed like forever when our guide, David, said, “This. Is. Adacar.”

Getting off the bus, the air was absolutely electric. There were children everywhere: running in front of the bus, cheering, yelling, singing. And 11 of us filed off the bus into a throng of these sweet faces. Little hands reaching out to say, “Yoga noi” (Very nice to meet you) and a few bigger hands to say in halting English, “How are you?” These children were remarkable, many of those without school clothes were in rags, and even those in school clothes had tears, rips, missing buttons. And their feet…their sweet little feet. Almost none of them had shoes.

After our initial greetings at Adacar Primary school, we were introduced to the headmaster and sat down for the songs they had prepared for us, like this one

After that, we all introduced ourselves and told the names of our sponsor children. This was the moment I had been waiting for. “Hello, my name is Rachel. My sponsor child is Martin Ikorit“. “Ikorit, Ikorit Martin!” our guide started to yell into the crowd (I found out later that their Christian names were tack-ons and they went primarily by their Ateso names). It took a few seconds, (what seemed like an eternity) for a tall, skinny boy in a blue t-shirt and gray pants to be pushed forward. I offered him my hand and then went in for the hug. It was awkward and the some of the kids giggled–as kids often do. And then he went back to his place. Then I said, “And my parent’s child, “Lilliam Atimo“. “Atimo, Lillian!” They shouted and a shy little girl, shoulders hunched, no smile whatever came over and solemnly accepted my hug.

I took a few pictures with Martin and Lillian that day: note Lillian’s (in green) serious expression–and tried communicating some with Martin over lunch that day to no avail. He was a little stand-offish, understandably so with this white woman invading his territory and taking pictures, but I could tell he was smart too, he had a mischievous little grin and a brilliant smile.

It wasn’t until a few days later when our speech therapist, Jan, sat down one on one with Martin did the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together. I know I’ve posted before that Martin is mute–this was the only information I had about him, and yes, he is mute, but Jan confirmed that he is also deaf. My heart was crushed and I walked around with this heavy burden–what could I do? How could I help when I was only here for just a week? As I’ve stated before, this was a week of contrasts, as sad as it is to know that Martin lives in silence I was completely astounded to see how God provided for that little guy: that he has two very good friends who have developed their own sign language with him: their names are Simon and Daniel. Beautiful kids–and you can tell that Martin trusts them implicitly. It was amazing to sit back and watch.

Now, Lilian is also a different story. When my parents received her profile description, describing her as shy, studious, enjoys reading, that pretty much summed it up. However, to see the difference in the pictures of Lillian from the beginning (see above) to the end of that week were remarkable. Our last day there, she was wearing her new orange pillowcase dress and was sporting a cute headband that my parents had included in her care package. Next to her is one of her good buddies, Rose–how adorable is it that Rose got the one pillowcase dress with the rose on the front? Lillian had given Rose one of her headbands.

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