Uganda / Day 8

I met a little girl today who absolutely ran away with my heart. 

I’ve been walking around the hospital quite a bit today. From the ICU, to the Operating Room, to the Ward, I’ve ventured all over. However, it seems as though every time I walked through this Ward today her sweet little face caught my eye. When I was walking from ICU to my office and saw her getting a bath at the washing station, I decided I just had to go talk to this little one. When I first walked over, she was frozen. She didn’t move a muscle, and her big brown eyes stared me down. 

I reached out to touch her arm and she reached her chubby arm out to reach mine. Oh, if you know me, you know this interaction was quickly melting my heart. Our hands met in the middle, and I watched her little fingers rest inside mine. I giggled as I helped her momma finish her bath, learning as much as I could about her story, despite the her mother’s broken English. She is the first born, and the only child in her family so far. Little Rihana had a craniotomy yesterday, and is on a quick road to recovery.

I realized I was originally on a mission, and needed to head back to the office for a minute to complete another child’s bio. I ran back to my chair, wrote out the bio, published it, and swiftly made my way back to the Ward. I honestly don’t think I could have waited any longer. I found Rihana’s bed, and sat down next to her. Her mom looked at me and said, “Oh hello! You are back!”.  We both cracked a huge smile and I reached out my long, white arms, hoping Rihana would be okay with me picking her up. She is still a bit disoriented from her surgery, but her little wobbly arms slowly reached up in my direction. If my heart wasn’t already a puddle, it was now. As soon as I picked her up she rubbed her little fingers up and down my face, getting accustomed to the much lighter skin tone that I had, in comparison to her own. Her big brown eyes were still as wide as ever. I tickled her feet and she almost cracked a smile! I was determined at that point. I tried to think of everything possible that I could do to make this precious little one smile. I tried tickling her, playing peekaboo, everything. And then it hit me, I have a camera. I took a photo of her sweet face and quickly turned the screen around to show her. The right side of her mouth slowly raised, but I was not satisfied with a half smile. I was so determined to get a giggle out of this little girl. More photos, more tickling, more peek a boo. Thirty minutes later, I had picked her back up, and our eyes were locked as she was playing with hair. I tried tickling her little feet one more time, and then it happened. She busted out laughing. Im talking lost her breath kind of giggles. It was the most adorable thing I have ever seen. I was too caught up in the moment to take a photo, and I think I like it that way. I will forever hide that little smile in my heart. 

I had to go back to the office a few minutes after this. Lets be honest, I practically floated back to my chair, totally awestruck by this little one, fighting so hard for a quick recovery. It may not seem that that grand of a story when it is written out in a blog post, but I can promise you the beauty found in the few moments I had with this little one and her mom were enough to remind me once again why I am here. .It’s mind blowing how little it takes to build a relationship. If you think about it, all it took for Rihana to smile was intentional interaction and love. How simply can we love others if we just invite those two things into practice every day?

I love this place. I love falling asleep to the sound of the ICU monitors. I love eating rice and beans for lunch everyday. I love taking photos of captivating life that happens here at the hospital. I love being in a place where others come first, and love knows no language barriers.