Last week I wrote about our honorary family in Sosh. This is what I would have loved to say to one of the kids who was really special to us.
It has been my joy to watch you grow over these past few years. I’ve seen you protect and care for your little brother, taking the responsibility and freeing him to be the playful one. I’ve watched you grow in confidence as you’ve learned to love reading. I saw you cuddle and care for those kittens, and then cry when they left. I saw you at your father’s funeral, unable to hold back the tears as the coffin was lowered into the ground.
You’ve been through a lot in your short years, so much loss for one small person. But the depth of your love and compassion catches me sometimes. I didn’t know a 9 year old boy could be so tender: you would carry my son with you everywhere, if he would let you. You always have smiles and kisses for him, putting your face close to his little hands. Your heart is so soft, but this world is so hard. We heard so many stories of violence in your community. My prayer is that your tender heart would be protected, because this world will try to make you hard. With no parents, it’s tempting to look for affection in the wrong place. There are so many challenges for young people in the township – the expectations, the lack of opportunities, the judgements because of your skin colour. Yet we know other young men who are pushing against those challenges with kindness and courage, they are working and going to university, and you can do that too.
Sometimes I see that hardness, that judgement in my own heart. I hope that I have loved you well in the time we’ve lived next door. I know that you have loved us well with that beautiful heart of yours. It’s hard to leave you, but I have to trust that there will be others to love you, help you, play with you and support you to grow both strong and tender.
With love always,