Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Never give up...

This fine motto was on a bag left behind by the tenants in Daughter 2's Edinburgh flat. We found it when we cleaned the flat in preparation for the next tenants. We rather liked its bizarre optimism and the interesting use of the comma.

Which links fairly tenuously with the subject of the remainder of this post: our lovely little African guests - in the end only two of them, with their chaperone (American; also delightful). We've hosted members of African children's choirs before and our previous children were also memorably engaging.

The children are all from poor families; some are orphaned and all would have been unlikely to get much schooling. Being chosen for one of the choirs means that they go on tour, singing and dancing, and the money raised will pay for their education up to university level. This choir is from Uganda and they've been on tour for sixteen months: they've visited 38 American states as well as Britain. Next week they go to Ireland and in November they return home. This sounds a bit Dickensian but as we've found before, the children seem to love it and adapt amazingly well to their strange (temporary) lifestyle.

P and S are 10 and 11 (approximately - they're not really sure) and are - I can't praise them highly enough - happy and enthusiastic and funny and clever and polite and affectionate and grateful and interested and tidy and organised and uncomplaining and curious and ... well, everything that's good. I remember our previous visitors as being just the same. P and S have been playing with Lego in our house and enjoying it so much. I asked them if they'd seen Lego before. "No," said P. "It's maybe in the shops but we can't afford things like that." She didn't sound in the very slightest sorry for herself; just matter-of-fact. And I looked at the huge pile of Lego that our children had and thought... hmm. Of course we're not allowed to give gifts to individual children because, apart from anything else, they'd have to carry them wherever they go.

They have lessons and rehearsals in our church during the day and we collect them at 5pm. They really want to learn (and I think guiltily of how I used to feel about school when I was a child... .) When we arrive, all the children are busy and very well-behaved; almost alarmingly so. Then they're told that they can go and they ERUPT into giggles and cartwheels and squealing and bouncing - and they're enchantingly normal again.

I'm really going to miss P and S. I hope so much that life is kind to them and they never lose their sunny outlook on life.


  1. That is an awful lot of travelling for these youngsters. What a great education that alone is!

  2. I think an earlier version of that choir came to our church in Pennsylvania a good few years ago. Yes, very engaging!

  3. This post makes me happy - it sounds like such a beneficial situation for both you and the children, and the end product is education and song.

  4. Wow. What an experience for both the children and the families that they stay with. I always marvel at how those with nothing can be so cheerful, yet those of us with everything are such whiners. Should we divulge ourselves of all the trappings to be happy? Maybe. And maybe we should do exchanges in the other direction -- send our children to their spartan lives for a year or two so that maybe they could appreciate what they have!

  5. I think that bag motto applies to what you did for those children as well.

  6. Such a heart warming post. You and Mr Life are kind and generous people.
    That sounds too short, but what else can I write from the other side of the world, to someone I've never met and probably never will?

  7. I love that you shared smiles through this post-and that the children have blessed the lives they touch along the way-as you have blessed their lives, too!