…purple and orange and blue. I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, too.” The words of this song have been floating through my head today as I’ve been surrounded by children.
At one point, we were surrounded by and playing with about 100 kids while the doctor and other members of the team were seeing cardiology patients in the camp clinic.
The theme for my day, however, was “Lessons in Color”.
When I came down to our kitchen before departure this morning, I was informed by the doctor that I needed to go change my shirt. My last clean shirt just happened to be “blue” (“sheen”). It turns out that that Yazidis have an issue with the color blue and it is forbidden and frowned upon (though that attitude appears to be changing). It has something to do with the pronunciation of the color being very close to an “evil” word…so they avoid it altogether.
After a couple of hours of playing games and singing songs with the children in the sun, some of them went back to the “homes” for the warmest part of the day. The stalwarts, those truly hungry for attention and something different from their daily existence, stuck around and started to play a new game with me by teaching me their language. (Yes, Mom, you were right.) By the time we headed out, they’d taught me colors and numbers, as well as how to say “what is your name?” (na-vee-ta-chia) and “where are you from?” (dash key de-raya) in Kurdish.
This little girl, L, was my greatest teacher!
The children have been taught some English and she was a pro. She was very patient with her student! It also made her smile when some of the women of the camp would walk up to see what the children were doing and I’d ask them, “Naveta chia?” Their initial shock was met with L’s smile. They’d share their names with me and then look to L to see what was going on.
I got really good at knowing the names of the colors. The kids would run up to me and point to something on their clothing to quiz me. The color I had the most trouble with (or at least the children would laugh the most at my pronunciation) was the color of my shirt: orange (Portakali). Something about making a long “o” sound and THEN adding the “r” instead of my “or”. It’s okay though…they laughed.
Tonight I have a new book with me.
Clearly, these kids have made me hungry to learn more…to be able to connect with them on another level. I was happy that many of them are learning english. Not because of me, but because so many nations use it as a second language. If they should leave this place, their english will help them learn the new language of whichever country they end up in. These kids already are bi-lingual: Kurdish and Arabic.
Havahr (Kurdish)….Sadiq (Arabic)…Friend (English)…at the end of the day, they made sure I knew what to call them in all of the languages they know.
Tonight, my prayers are: (1) for L that she will continue to learn and maybe become a teacher for others. (2) for thanksgiving that our team leader J has received “resident” status and will no longer have to leave the country every 30 days. (3) for industry to come to this country so that they do not need to buy the building materials from the very countries that have bombed them in the past. (4) for banking to return to normalcy so that funds can more easily be transferred here to aid the work that is being done.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5