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Thirsting Eyes MAG
Waterbottle in hand, craving juice, I bumped along in a rickety, dust-covered van.Gazing into the terrain, I saw villagers walking along the road with basketsbalanced on their heads, and groups of boys asking for money for fillingpotholes. As we pulled up a steep hill, a small, dilapidated sea-green buildingcame into view. I exited the van, and immediately felt a sea of sparkling blackeyes, wide with curiosity, looking at us, a group of light-skinnedstrangers.
My uncle followed me out of the van, video camera in hand.Immediately, like a swarm of bees, 50 smiling children surrounded him inwondering awe. Not only had they never seen a camera, they had never seenthemselves, since mirrors are luxuries in this part of Zambia. They were clothedin rags and I could tell they hadn't bathed in some time. Their eyes, thoughfilled with hunger and pain, still sparkled. Squeals of excitement, whisperingand laughter came from the mass.
A white-haired, dark-skinned manapproached us. "They just got brand-new uniforms; they're wearing themespecially for you," the man beamed proudly, as he motioned behindhim.
I then looked out onto the field, and saw 20 or so 14-year-old boysrunning around, passing a soccer ball across the field, all clothed in shiningblack shorts, half in bright red jerseys, and half in bright blue. I stood in aweas I watched them play with unbelievable skill. Even with bare feet, they werestill awesome!
My cousin turned to my uncle and whispered, "Daddy,how come they're playing soccer with no shoes?"
"Shoes? Chloe,take a look around. They don't even have plumbing for drinking water, or realhouses, for that matter."
I looked to my right, and saw mud moundswith strips of straw and sheets of metal on top. When a person emerged from oneof the mounds, I realized they were homes.
I walked across the fieldtoward the mounds. There were children playing games and chasing chickens; amother bathed a little boy in a small tin basin, and the men were returning fromthe six-mile journey to the closest water hole. Large potato sacks filled withflour and wheat lined the mud walls. I glanced into one of the homes and saw asmall, dark room with two boiling pots; an elderly woman bent over them, reachingout the window to grab flour, spices and onions from largesacks.
"Attention, boys and girls!" bellowed a slightly hoarseman's voice.
I turned and saw the white-haired man from the soccer fieldorganizing a group. The man introduced himself as the schoolmaster, and thechildren as his students. The main reason for our trip to Africa was to presentthis school with the money my cousin Evan had raised as his bar mitzvah project.A speech was made, and then a group of first-graders stood and sang, wishing uspeace, love and thanks.
When it was time to return to our lodgings, alittle boy approached me, just staring up at me.
"Hi, what's yourname?" I asked.
"Joseph." I noticed him gazing at my waterbottle, which had less than an ounce left in it.
"Are you finishedwith that?" he asked.
"Yes, do you want it?" Ioffered.
A smile crossed his face, though I couldn't figure out why hewanted an almost empty bottle of water. All my questions were answered when I sawhim run off into a dark corner and gulp the last few drops.
Rice Cakes For A Traveler by Amie K., New City, NY
Excerpt From Japan by Nathan L., La Mirada, CA
untitled by Gowri C., Colorado Springs, CO
La Isla of Enchantment by Melissa N., Philadelphia, PA
St. Thomas by Michele B., Westlake, OH
Colors of Jerusalem by Kelly S., Middletown, PA
A Midday Stroll by Ben H., So. Hadley, MA
By Aprille B., Westfield, MA
Thispublication may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system ortransmitted in any form or by any means,
without the writtenpermission of the publisher: The Young Authors Foundation, Inc.