Thursday, September 9, 2010

lost in translation

There's a six year old Muslim boy, living somewhere in a village in Ethiopia, who

thinks I have a pet monkey

living in my house. 

But the curious thing to him was not the monkey living with us, but the birds. 

How do you tame your birds? 

He wrote. 

Where we live, the monkeys can be tame at times, but the birds destroy our crops. 

                  We pass the nights outside, in the fields, to keep the birds away.

My son is three and a half years younger than Hawi, our sponsored child through World Vision.

Soon, he will understand these stories of a little boy who has no shoes and lives in a hut and helps his mother draw water from a well. Soon, he'll be able to find Ethiopia on a map of Africa and will understand why our letters take halves of years to receive responses. He'll trace the postal stamp with the capital's name, Addis Ababa, and will delight over the syllables and hard consonants of a language unknown.  

For now, the joys of sponsorship belong to my husband and me, but I can't help but dream of how Hawi's story will stretch the imagination and worldview of my son.

For an American boy, born into a world of air-conditioning and Mickey Mouse, laptops and cell phones, ice cream and pancakes, books and beach and boat rides with grandparents, the story of a boy living

far, far away, in a village in Ethiopia
should lend itself to lessons on generosity and thankfulness; 

should lead to questions about differences and disparity.

After all, when you're friends with a boy

who sleeps in fields to chase away the birds

your worldview can't remain the same.

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