As I am sitting in Baby Class, grading final exams and making sure that they can re-write the number “2” multiple times, I hear the lunch bell. My heart starts beating faster and faster, and I can feel a knot in my stomach starting to coil up. I know that I will have to say my goodbyes in just a few minutes. As I walk outside, I am handed goodbye notes from left and right and am being hugged and pulled every which way. It somehow feels unreal to me, like I am not present.
How can this be happening? I have been dreading this moment since the first day I laid eyes on the children that would soon be taking a piece of my heart. Within the first five minutes of arriving at LOAMO the first day, I clicked with all the children. They were willing to invite me into their lives and give me all their love. Therefore, these amazing, natural friendships are not an easy thing to let go of. After countless hugs and goodbyes to all the amazing kids that I will never forget, it was time to go.
However, we didn’t have to say our final goodbyes to Class Six and Seven. We planned a dance for them and all the teachers and staff. I have never seen kids so excited for something that was so simple and easy. When I walked in to Class Six earlier that day, each student showed the whole class, one by one, what their outfit was going to be for the dance. They couldn’t believe that they wouldn’t have to wear their school uniform. The enthusiasm that was filling the children was incredible.
We quickly decorated the venue, Maasai Camp, and made food for them. We had only two short hours to complete all of our duties. Who knew that Fairy Bread was a popular item in Tanzania? You simply load butter onto white bread, then add colorful sprinkles… this was new to me. It had to be healthy. We cut 1,000 orange slices, and made plenty of other food to ensure that everyone left the dance feeling full. We quickly decorated the club, hanging up streamers, and creating the word “LOVE” with a bunch of paper hearts that said each student and teacher’s name inside of the heart.
As soon as the kids arrived, there was no holding back. Everyone ran onto the dance floor and showed their moves. It was so different than a middle school dance back home where everyone would just sit around the dance floor. The vibe here was amazing, and boy, can those kids dance!
When the generator shut off, it was our dreaded cue to say goodbye. We all proceeded outside into a circle. A few students formed a line and started giving each one of us a white rose and a red rose. The white rose symbolized peace, the red was for love, and the green stem and leaves for health. We were also each given a beaded bracelet. This was very emotional for me, and I couldn’t believe that the time had come. After the touching ceremony, we proceeded to say our goodbyes. There were long hugs and lots of tears. All of the kids got into the school bus and were sticking their heads out the window. I walked up to the last window, and I saw my best friend, Meek, hanging out of it holding out his arm for me to hold. I did not let go of his hand until the bus pulled us apart.
After the bus left, I just felt numb. I didn’t realize that I may never see those incredible kids again. However, I wouldn’t be feeling heartbroken if the kids and staff at LOAMO hadn’t made such a mark on my heart, so I know that all of these feelings are out of love. I have learned so many lessons on how to live a happy life from these kids. Appreciate the small things, accept others, and love no matter what your situation might be. I am extremely thankful that I was granted with this opportunity, and that these kids came into my life.