I met Marvin one day on the school yard while I was taking pictures. (The kids LOVE having their pictures taken. It was one of the ways I met many of them. They don’t have any mirrors, so they love to see themselves on the camera!) He didn’t say anything, he just quietly slipped his hand into mine. He went with me wherever I went that day.
When I asked him his name he was so soft spoken that I couldn’t understand him, so I had one of the other children ask him. I found that none of the kids I had connected with knew him. He is so quiet and shy and he tends to observe the other kids, rather than engage.
After a while, he asked if I would come to his house. (The kids live in concrete homes. Each home has 3 bedrooms and a living area. 1 bedroom is for the “house mom” and the other 2 for kids, 6 kids in each room. Some of the houses have furniture and use the living area as a dining room or living room. The kids especially like to show off their beds, a bunk bed 3 beds high with a mosquito net over it.)
When we reached his house, his house mom was sitting on the porch, weaving a mat and listening to her radio. I introduced myself and quickly realized that she didn’t speak any English. I tried my best to explain that Marvin had invited me over. She got up quickly and motioned for me to come inside. I’m not sure if there wasn’t any electricity, or if she just didn’t have her light on, but it was very dark inside. Her only piece of furniture in the living area was a school bench. She pulled it out from the wall and motioned for me to sit. Then she knelt at the other side. I was so overwhelmed by her hospitality and desire to make me comfortable. We tried to talk for a minute or two and ended up laughing about the fact that we couldn’t communicate.
Marvin came inside and showed me his room. By then, some of his older “brothers” had come home. They were able to interpret for me. It was getting dark and time for me to go home. I asked the older boy if he could ask Marvin if it was okay if I left. Marvin said no. We all laughed about that. I sat on the porch for a few minutes and talked with his mom, through the interpretation of the older boy. Then I went home.
My relationship with Marvin was sweet and simple. He would find me and hold my hand as I visited with some of the other kids. One day I brought him some bubbles. He was so happy and I loved watching him play.
Another day I took him to my house, away from the other children, and gave him a ball. We bounced it back and forth on the porch of the house for a long time.