I walked hand in hand with a six-year-old boy as he led me to the place where he slept. We entered a 10×10 tin roofed shack with a few scraps of cardboard on the dirt floor. He was an orphan, his parents had died in the war. We sat on the floor with 30+ boys aged 5 to 12. Every night 40 boys slept in this shack. They were all orphans. Their parents had either died of conflict or disease. They were living in this makeshift camp with no one to care for them. A local NGO provided water one day a week, but they had no food or medical care. One boy’s arm had been chopped off by the Islamic Extremist Group, Al Shabaab. Another’s hands were deformed and infected from a grenade blast he had never received medical treatment for. To dull the pain of their plight, they sniffed and inhaled glue and paint continually.
On the flight to Mogadishu I asked God to move my heart today. He did, He absolutely did. He connected me to His kids, these boys. Sitting with them I did all I could in the moment, listen and love. Their plea for help brought tears to my eyes, but not despair. There is hope in Somalia now and restoration is happening every day.
We ate dinner on the rooftop of our hotel watching the sun set and stars come out. Looking up at the stars my mind got lost thinking about my first day in Somalia. The country is devastated, but on the rise. Buildings have gone up across the city over the last 5 months. Families were playing and laughing on the beach today, which hadn’t taken place since 2006. Life is being restored.
I am falling in love with Somalia and its people. They are beautiful beyond words. Gazing across the skyline with the occasional AK-47 blast, I thought to myself… “What could be better than purposing my life to provide solutions for boys like the ones I met today?”
I don’t have a good answer.
-Christian Taylor, on his first trip to Somalia 9.14.12