I am not a good NGO worker. I don’t even remember the little girl’s name. Mostly because I’m not sure she understood my Urdu and because I definitely didn’t understand her reply, which was in Sindhi- not Urdu. I didn’t even ask her what grade she was in or how many siblings she had or what her favorite subject in school was. Obviously I’m a pro at getting to know children.
I didn’t ask her anything, because I couldn’t stop smiling at her.
She was just so giggly. Like one of those square boxes you got as a child and when you flipped it over in your hand it mooed like a cow or made some other obscure animal noise- that’s what her laughter was like. Like every time I looked at her, she flipped over in my hand and started giggling again.
She was holding this Crayola crayon box around her neck, held together with string (or something very much like string). She had found two cardboard cylinders and put them on the crayon box to make it look like a binocular/camera hybrid. And it was beautiful.
She kept holding it up to her eyes like she was getting that perfect shot of something. And then the effervescent giggling would begin again. The teacher continued on with her lesson, I continued on with my watching, and she continued on with her camera-clicking/binocular-finding. I could tell you that she was “capturing every moment of her education,” or that she thought her school was “picture perfect,” or that she had a “beautiful vision for her life.”
But really she’s just a little girl, with a great imagination and a contagious smile. She probably does love school and probably does have a great vision for her life. But she is a little girl just like your niece, daughter, sister, or neighbor. These kids are not merely a weak, depressed, down trodden, unfortunate project that you have sympathy for. They are funny, unique, colorful, innovative, confident, and beautiful; they are someone to believe in and get behind- not something to be pitied.
So let’s put on our Crayola-box-colored binocular/cameras and see her for the beautiful child she is. Let’s see the world the way she does, laugh a lot more, be thankful for the resources we have (no matter how small), and see every moment as worth capturing.
And I’ll work on remembering to ask names in the correct language and being a better NGO worker.