Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Amaria

Where ever I go, there are one hundred children following. Most of the time, they have never seem a white person before. Small children hide shyly behind their older brothers and sisters, peeking out from behind a skirt or pantleg. The older, bolder children dare to move closer, shying away with a smile when I address them directly. Particularly amazing to them is when I manage to bumble through a few words of Hausa. Their eyes light up, doubting that I actually said something familiar to them.

Yesterday, such a crowd of children had gathered around. In an effort to ease the nervousness, I turned to them and said, “Sunna na Amelia.” Laughter from the group. “Amaria,” I heard some of them mumble back. Later, one of my staff was standing with me, joking about the children. “How do I say, ‘What is my name?’ to them?” I asked Musa. “Mai suna na?” he told me, "but why would you ask that? They don’t know your name.” he asked confused. “Mai suna na?” I asked the children. “Amaria!” they yelled with joy. On the car ride back to base, we started talking about my name. “You know, the kids were calling you ‘Amaria’,” Fatima explained. “You know what this means in Hausa? This means ‘bride’. What a fitting name for you, at a fitting time!”

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