Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Children of Lokinene

Now that we're spending more time in the village, we're getting to know the Ik a little better. Before when we were just visiting the village, it was always a highlight to interact with the children. Now that we live here, things are different. I'll start by saying a bit about the girls of Lokinene, which we don't see as often as the boys. They are put to work in the home. We see many passing by with jerry cans (or gourds) of water on their heads that they've collected from the local well and are carrying home. Without a doubt, these little girls are all stronger than I am. They make a trip to the well several times a day for the family's water supply. Water is precious in the village and this job is very important to the family. Terrill made an observation last night that this may be one reason why the Ik seem to want big families...they need children to help them perform the duties of daily life for survival. The workload is bigger without children to help. Little girls can also be seen carrying their siblings on their backs. Sometimes a neice or cousin will be recruited from a neighboring village to carry a child around. This neice may also live with the family in order to provide full-time care for a younger child. I've seen children as young as four or five carrying a baby around. Girls may also wash clothes, collect firewood, prepare food and assist their mothers with other household chores (such as putting fresh mud on the walls of the house). One very important thing I've noticed is that girls are always wearing a skirt. Even if the skirt is a discarded piece of cloth that is tattered and old, it's tied around the waist and the girl is covered. Not so for boys. Ah...the boys of Lokinene. They usually have more free time than the girls. Every day they come and stand outside our fence to watch what we're doing. If we go walking, they follow. They give a running commentary in Ik of what we're doing. Now that Terrill can understand a good bit of what they're saying, we have to chuckle to ourselves at their comments. The boys are put to work at times. They may assist their fathers & brothers in hunting or gathering honey. They may go out into the forest to find wild food. They may be sent to the fields to pull weeds or keep the birds away...but these jobs do not keep them occupied for very long. The problem is this: there is no school in Lokinene. Correction...there is a school building, but no teachers or supplies. So, many children are not educated here. Each family might pick one or two children to attend school elsewhere. Then the children will be sent to Kamion (another Ik area), Kalapata or Kaabong (Karamojong areas) for several years of school. They live at the schools. Money and circumstances determine how long a child gets to stay in school. What we can't figure out is how a family would be able to pick the one child that gets to attend. Those that go to school inevitably will have better futures. For one thing, the school systems will start teaching English which helps people get jobs with foreigners (like us). Please pray for teachers to come to this area.
One day last week we allowed some boys to come inside our compound to play. They brought their slingshots and their cardboard cars...both homemade.

This one brought a 'live' friend. At least he wasn't inflicting pain upon the bird.
They fashion their cardboard cars & trucks after vehicles they've seen come to Lokinene. They call their vehicles: lorries. They were proudly pulling them around our driveway. Sometimes I think they bother us just to get some attention. Everyone at home is either too busy working or attending to smaller children. We get annoyed almost every day at constantly responding to their begging, but we're beginning to realize that this may be the only way they know how to relate to us. Pray that we'll know how to interact with these children in lasting ways.


The Reeds said...

Great post. Great pictures. Beutiful children. We will def. be praying.

At first I thought Tero wrote this and I laughed at the thought of him saying, "anyone of these young girls is stronger than I am" (paraphrased I think).

Love you guys,

Anonymous said...

AAhhh BOYS. Got to love them. I will pray that God will give you more and more insight into how to relate with them. They remind me so much of my boys. David use to spend hours making vehicles out of anything he could get his hands on. Sometimes I think my kids would have loved growing up in the bush somewhere. Love you, Mary S.

Cassidy said...

This is my favorite post as of yet. Would you be able to email me the photo of the bird in the car? I want to print it out. Love and prayers, Cass

Jennie said...

Ditto: Great Post! Praying for you as well, love your hearts. Been thinking of you a lot this week, hope to call you soon for a catch up. Love!