fading memory

By , Palatine, IL
About a week ago, I went shopping for new school cloths with my mom. We went over to the mall, and as we were walking through the parking lot, I saw a little girl wearing a pair of pink Dora Crocks on her feet. In my mind, I saw a little boy named Jimmy-Kevin

A month ago I was in Haiti on a mission’s trip. When the group I was with arrived at the house we were going to live in, there was a group of about thirty children waiting for us in the yard. The house belongs to Jephthe, a pastor who my church is partnered with down there in Haiti.

There was one little boy in the group of children who was wearing a pair of pink Dora Crocks. The shoes were black or brown in spots from the dirt and mud that he had been walking through. This puzzled me, not because of the dirt and grime on the shoes (as I expected everything in a third world country to have some amount of discoloration from the environment), but from their color and character. In the United States, only little girls are seen wearing pink or Dora shoes. But, here was this little Haitian boy, proudly wearing his shoes.

The boy had on a pair of tattered, grey shorts and a solid red polo shirt with many holes scattered throughout the fabric. Both his pants and his shirt were covered in dust, as it hadn’t rained in the town for days. This look was reciprocated in all of the children, all covered in some level of grime. I felt like I fit in, and if it weren’t for my pale skin, I would have because my cloths were discolored by this time from the
eighty mile, six hour drive that I had spent standing on our bags in the back of a pick-up truck holding on for my life. I was covered in dust, sweat, and diesel exhaust and I fit right in.

I walked up to the little boy “Ki jan ou rele?” which means “What is your name?

“Jimmy!” the little boy with Dora shoes answered.

Jimmy looked to be about three years old, he stood slightly under three feet tall, and was dangerously skinny for a toddler. To be polite, my next question was “Ki laj ou?” meaning “How old are you?” Jimmy held up five fingers. This surprised me because he did not look even close to his age.

Jimmy was a fun-loving kid, he played soccer and catch with the other children, but mostly wanted to be held by a ‘blonc’ or ‘white’ person. Jimmy became very attached to a guy on our trip named Peter. Every time Jimmy would see Peter, he would shout “PITTA! PITTA!”

The next day at VBS (vacation bible school) I was holding Jimmy, but I noticed that all of the Haitians were calling him Kevin when they talked to him. I decided that Kevin had wanted to be called Jimmy, which is why he told me that that was his name. From then on, everyone in the group called the little boy with pink Dora shoes Kevin-Jimmy or Jimmy-Kevin.

We knew Kevin-Jimmy was well-off compared to the other children because he had three shirts, one for church, and two for the rest of the week. He would show off his shirt to all of us every time he switched what one he wore. Even with his three
shirts, like all of the children, Kevin-Jimmy had no toys. He would play with sticks that he pulled off of a tree, or with pieces of trash he found on the ground.

The thing that I remember most about Kevin-Jimmy was that he never stopped smiling.

One day, after VBS, I gave Kevin-Jimmy a bouncy ball. I wanted him to have a toy so that he would stop playing with broken bottles and plastic bags. About a minute after I gave him the rubber ball, another kid took it from him and ran. I expected Kevin-Jimmy to start crying, or to chase the boy, but what he did was to turn around, laugh, and insist to play a game with me.

During the whole time we were in the town of Pion, Haiti, where Kevin-Jimmy lived, I never saw any of the kids unhappy. They all got some level of joy from everything that happened. Each and every person, no matter the age, spent their day doing nothing other than working hard and being happy.

Every time Kevin-Jimmy saw us, he would come running, grinning ear to ear and covered in dirt. He would play with us in his grimy and torn cloths, and laugh from a mouth that had not been fed.

When I passed the little girl wearing the pink Dora shoes while walking into the mall, I saw that she had bows in her hair and pretty had bracelets and a necklace on and was carrying a toy purse. I looked up at her face, which was scrunched up with her bottom lip jutting out and tears streaming down her face.

The little girl let out a wail, as if she was in pain. What I heard her say to her mom almost hurt. She was asking why she could not get the toys she had wanted. My mind wandered back to Kevin-Jimmy and how his bouncy ball got taken away, and the smile that stayed on his face.

A few steps after my mom and I had passed the little girl, and we walked into the mall.





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