"...sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within
—from 'Saint Francis and the Sow' by Galway Kinnell
This kid has been through a lot. He and his brother were malnourished in March 2014, when RSF had them admitted to the local hospital for care. The hospital fed them "plumpy nut" and got the two boys healthier. Then tragedy struck. The next month he was severely beaten by a relative, and almost died. They bound his hands and feet, beat him, and threw him into the river. There is very little to no psycho-social support for such traumas here, which are far too common.
I had first encountered Beckham when I visited the village as a journalist in January 2014 I snapped a photo of him and his siblings at their house as I walked by; this is the image that appears on the RSF website. Something in his gaze just spoke to me. That night when I returned to my lodging, I cried from my soul, I was just emotionally wrenched. I had traveled around the world and seen poverty but this community, this village, these kids, this boy — it just spoke to me. After I returned to the U.S., I just felt God calling me to come and help him, to help his community. So I did. At first a Ugandan friend watched over the family and others as I prepared to sell my house in the US — that is how we got him into the hospital for nutritional help, and how I knew what happened with the abuse (which I've since confirmed with other family members).
When I finally had a chance to actually meet him in person in January of 2015 (I'd previously only snapped the photo as I passed by), he was sweet and shy, but time after time he barely spoke, even as he'd hug my legs and show affection and joy in my presence. He didn't know English at all, and didnt talk much even in his local langauge. His gaze is always so intense, and seemingly forlorn, until he smiles which he does with all he has. So to see how much he has emerged from his shell in such a short time is a truly beautiful thing. Just yesterday he was present when I helped the Batwa clear land to build a house for a single mom in the community, and then they all came over for lunch. Even though he isn't yet in school, he started singing the ABC song to me! His siblings surely help him (but they are only in "nursery" school, despite being about 8 and 9), but he wanted me to hear, and was delighted by my delight. He also said "My name is Beckham" and is slowly learning English! He will always be so special to me.
Everyone you see, you say to them,
Of course you do not do this out loud;
Someone would call the cops.
Still though, think about this,
This great pull in us
Why not become the one
Who lives with a full moon in each eye
That is always saying,
With that sweet moon
What every other eye in this world
Is dying to