Her picture sits on my desk. I look at this little child Febe Magdiel every day. She has the cutuest toothless smile. My Casa de Esperanza calendar says that she is 2 years old, but I don’t believe it. I know kids here look much younger than their age, but I won’t believe this little child could be two years old.
Today I sit at the concrete playing field at the Casa and am handed a baby. I don’t recognize her face, but the hat is the same as in the picture on my desk. I ask the name. Yes, this is Febe, my little Febe who smiles at me while I grade papers and plan for the coming school days. She is now sitting in my arms. She has gotten thinner, lost some of the baby chub, and now looks a bit older. I ask her age, a dreaded question, because if she is really two, she is probably really undernourished. She is one, they say. THAT I can believe.
As Febe gets passed one, Jasmin quickly takes the coveted space on my lap. She’s been by my side every day at the Casa. Cecilia was my new friend today. She and Jasmin together, laughing and talking, occupy my lap and my thoughts. Cecilia’s teeth are rotting away, so I can’t understand her, but she is a light of joy. She wants to tell me everyone’s name, so it is unfortunate that I can’t understand her.
Mateo comes and goes. He is busy “macheteando” (pretending to use a machete to cut plants) with a stick. He has an adorable smile. I have played with him before. He must be at least two or three, but I haven’t heard him say a word. He is full of smiles and laughter, and I have an open invitation to play. Miguel (Mickey) runs by, also about two years old. Mickey always looks dirty. His belly sticks out and his shirt is covered in spots betraying day hard at play. These kids are friends from the guardería, or day care. Other kids of all ages come and go. I talk to kids and tias (those that take care of the kids).
I have to leave now, and the kids want to come with me. I love that. Mickey comes back over, saying “chau” and waving the whole time I walk down the hill. I hear calls of “chau” from Cecilia and Mickey both standing behind the fence that serves as a backdrop for the sports field. Today as I walk down the hill to my house, I don’t want to go home. I like it here. I hope I can come back soon.