Love, Joy, and Compassion Need No Language

Coming into this trip I knew the language barrier would be something we would have to work around and be able to overcome. During the first days of our time here, we started learning some very simple Siswati phrases and words to help bridge the gap. Most of the older people have a good grasp on English, but the children have little understanding besides what they have been learning in their preschool class. Let me just say, this language is not an easy one to just pick up and learn. The clicks alone were enough to discourage us.  So we were faced with the problem of how to communicate with all these children and people without much knowledge of their language.

        In those early days at the carepoints, we came to realize how important those simple Siswati words would be in getting the children to open up and be more comfortable with us being around. Many of us were blessed with the opportunity to teach preschool at the various carepoints we have been located at.  This has been extremely impactful for me and I’m sure the other girls as well.  For the most part, communication with the young children is dependent on a game of charades and guessing.

       The older children at the carepoints seemed slightly less thrilled to have us around, and for the most part, try not to connect with us as quickly as the little children do. They have a more realistic grasp on the fact that we will be leaving so many of them are more hesitant about forming a relationship with us. In the recent days at the carepoints, a few of the girls and I have been able to develop deeper relationships with the older girls, through things as simple as hand games.  They will teach us some and then we will teach them. They really love seeing us mess up while playing. It seems like they held us to these high standards when we arrived, but they are now realizing that even though we have grown up with different backgrounds, we are all just messy human beings.

       Through this trip I have learned that love, joy and compassion do not need language to be shown. Language is where and when things get muddled and confusing.  Here you need to show these things to get the point across. From being here and seeing these people begin to open up to us, I have been shown so beautifully how love, joy and compassion can transcend barriers and are not limited to words. These things are so much bigger and more powerful than I ever could’ve imagined without seeing them working first hand.

Written by: Carrie

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