Thursday, 24 November 2011

Choke from laughing

This week we went out to Langa to see one of our Play on Wheels-kids to gather further information to our participants' charts.
A very hot and sunny day.
A girl. She is 18 years old and has mental disabilities as well as physical ones.
She does not talk nor walk, but she is alert.
We were 5 visitors coming to see her.

As we opened the door to the shack, the reek of mold, expired food and ingrained trash hit us like a wall.
The air inside had become an even thicker sludge due to the weather outside.
Shacks in the townships are constructions built up by four walls made of either metal plate or boards (with huge cracks between each plank) mounted together with whatever nail-alike material the carpenter can get his hands on.
One problem with these buildings, made in this way, is the temperature inside.
Very hot in summer and very cold in winter.

The home-shack of our girl is made out of metal plate.
Hence, there is no ventilation whatsoever.
Dirt everywhere. Walls. Floor. Ceiling. Furniture. Sheets. Kitchen-tools.

Her grand-mom, who takes care of her, told us about the big burn covering her chest.
A really nasty scar.
Years back she attended a care centre.
Someone accidentally poured a bowl of boiling porridge over her.

Our girl was laying on the bed farthest from the door.
She veiled behind a curtain to hide her blush as she heard us enter.
We approached her.
We sat down on the bed next to her.
We chatted with her.
We gave her a teddy-bear.
Eventually she was brave enough to hold my hand a bit.
Summa summarum; we gave her attention.

She could not stop laughing.
Actually she laughed so much she started choking from it.
The excitement of a bunch of people coming over, just for her, was more overwhelming than she could handle.
Interaction. Stimulation.  Fun. Curiosity. A little gift. Just for me.
She never wanted us to leave.

We'll be back.

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