They look like little grown ups.
The Ugandan children wear miniaturized versions of adult clothing, hold siblings in their arms, and stand proudly next to vegetable stands. I stare at them for hours as the van drives through Uganda, my forehead pressed against the window.
A little boy, about the height of two milk crates, reaches up to his older sister who has just put a lollipop in her mouth. The girl, about the height of a chair, gives her brother the lollipop without a fuss.
Kids with huge, gaping smiles chase each other around produce stands and store fronts, running through the legs of adult society. Participating in a way that American children rarely do.
Many stores don’t have lighting so people hang outside of them. A woman sits next to a bowl with ten organic tomatoes and two locally-grown pineapples to sell. Pesticide-free corn is spread on tarps on the ground. Free-range goats walk around. Young men in blue shirts run around selling hormone-free meat on sticks. Society thrives and pulses with the energy of a beehive.
I was only in Uganda for 8 days but ghosts of the little Ugandan children haunt me as I walk down the ascetic and uninhabited streets of Boston. I notice the well-finished sidewalks and baroquely designed buildings. I walk out of an event at the Microsoft NERD center with superfluous quantities of organic, pesticide-free, free-range, hormone-free Whole Foods platters and catch my breath.
A breeze is blowing from the Charles River. The sidewalk is empty and well paved. I wonder where all the people are. I wonder where the Ugandan kids are running now.
Scenes from driving through Uganda
Photo above by Nicole Hennig, flickr.com