Living in the Community – We gain some children

On our first night we had arrived in near darkness and ate alone.  The following morning we were observed by the neighbours and the children in particular were fascinated to see the Foute using the house.  At first they kept their distance but would spend minutes at a time staring at us.  When we waved to them they might get embarrassed or smile and giggle, but a few waved back.  Next day they were a lot closer and started grouping together on the ground in front of the veranda.  We would say hello to them and start asking questions.  After another couple of short conversations we found a few of them up on the veranda creeping closer to us at our table.  Three in particular were from the family next door.  We discovered they were called Sami, Ibrahim and… Ibrahim.   I had to call them Ibrahim 1 and Ibrahim 2.  They would be so happy just to be around us; they were not after pestering or demanding things.  Sometimes they would whisper to each other but otherwise they would spend hours in our company.  In the evenings we had to be very firm about saying “Good night” and making sure they went back to their own families.  But we chatted simply about how old they were, where they went to school, who was related to whom.  I let them play with the items on the desk – they wore my large floppy bushhat and laughed for ages about it – even heading off round the street in it until I had to demand it back.

One day they turned up with a wheel hub and were using a stick to roll it up and down the street.  I asked them to give it to me and I stepped down on to the ground from the house and took it in my grasp and used it as a Frisbee.  They had never seen anything like it – it hovered across the road, landed on its edge and rolled down into the bush.  The kids laughed and went and retrieved it for me and begged for me to do it again.  So I threw it up the hill and this time is skimmed along the bare earth sending up clouds of dust.  The older children started doing it for themselves and realised how easy it was.  I had to help the younger ones who just threw it and it clanked to the ground about two feet away from them.  I showed how to put that twist in the wrist as you are about to release the hubcap.  It was great fun for them but I had to be careful as if a taxi or 4WD came along I had to stop them – I really did not want to be the cause of any traffic accident in this part of the world.  The game ended abruptly when I flung it down the hill, but released at the wrong moment myself and it went sailing up on to the roof of the next door house.  The kids and I sheepishly laughed and decided to make ourselves scarce.

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Ibrahim tries on my hat

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