Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Today at Zacamil

I sit in a tiny room at a beat-up metal desk typing patient information into a laptop while a woman is examined on the other side of the partition. 

It's tedious, repetitive work requiring utter accuracy.  I sense a stare: To my right, just outside the metal-barred open glass-slatted window is a sweet, smiling face with big brown eyes that watch my every move. The face belongs to a Salvadoran girl of maybe 10, whose mother is on the exam table. The eyes epitomize innocence and shyness being overpowered by curiosity about the unusual white-haired American man performing mysterious work with fingers on a keyboard. I try to imagine how to connect without a shared language and beyond just returning the smile. 

I remember a toy my grandchildren gave me to share, a simple number puzzle square like I had as a kid -- a toy whose language isn't exclusive to my world or hers.  I grab it and walk it out to the girl, who is overjoyed by the attention and the gift. She beams and quietly says 'gracias.'  When she is leaving, she first stops by and waves goodbye with the puzzle, still smiling ear to ear.

-- Larry Shushan, PINCC volunteer in Central America

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