Hunou-Koffi is about seventeen. He attends the highschool. He has come over to my house a couple times just briefly to introduce himself, and I saw him at the market and then again at the high school. Honestly, he has the face of an angel. He has been telling me, preparing me that he wanted to talk to me about some “things,.” He asked me a couple times when it might be convenient for him to come to my house. H.K. (as he will be known going forward) speaks fairly good English, and is President of the English club at the high school. H.K.’s legs are crippled. He gets around on rusty old crutches. Never saw anyone look so dignified.
I explained to H.K. we'd take one thing at a time. First his school fees. I told him I would talk to the school. He should go to school, but not stand up when the other kids who haven’t paid leave. He seemed relieved. I did talk to David, my tutor. I called him after H.K. left. It was a 30 second conversation. I said “David, Hunou Koffi came by, and he doesn't have the money to bring tomorrow, is there anything we can do about this.” David said “yes.” I told David H.K. would go to school tomorrow, and David said, “yes, good. We'll figure something out.” So....yayyyyyyyyyyyy #1 - done. The high school wants me to teach several hours a day, three days a week. I won't do it, unless they let this boy finish without any more fees. I don't know how to help him with the rest of it, though I've started investigating. I think there are some NGO's in Tesvie that could help with the crutches, and as a matter of fact, I just got an email from a friend whose daughter works for a Medical Supply company. She told me they would donate some crutches #2 - done.....but I wonder if he could be helped so much more. I feel compelled to find a group that will sponsor this remarkable boy.
H.K. stopped by the morning I left for a week long Peace Corps Conference in Pagala. It was about eight in the morning. He wanted to show me that one of his rusty crutches had indeed broken, and he needed to get it soddered. He has found a man in the village who will sodder it for him, but he didn’t have any money. I didn’t have any money either…just enough to get to my conference in Pagala. I told H.K. to take the crutch to the man and to tell him I would pay for it when I returned in a week. It’s only a matter of time though, before the other one breaks from the rust, and then the one we just fixed. I think H.K. has been soddering the ends back on for quite a while, and I think the crutches become a bit shorter each time.
So...I couldn't stop thinking about him, and how someone smiles through all this, and what his life must be like, and how stupid Lindsay Lohan is. haha. I don't know. Anyway, on my way to Tesvie the day after I met with H.K. I couldn’t stop my tears. I can’t decipher my emotions. I think mostly just awe that every time he takes a painful step he smiles, real smiles and doesn’t complain. How does that work?