I never expected to feel close to one child in particular, and this is exactly what happened to me in the Mayan village of Red Bank, Belize.
Yenni, an eleven-year-old girl, found me. I noticed her in the classroom, when I called upon all the children to follow me for their health screening. She seemed different, perhaps her assertiveness, her “tom-boy” look and the fact that she was one of the few girls who wore pants instead of a skirt, made Yenni stand out.
Yenni didn’t just follow me, she studied the nurses and their treatments. She watched as they wrapped the blood pressure cuff around the arms of the kids, applied creams to infected skin and took temperatures. I could tell her brain cells had kicked into full-time absorption mode. During a restroom break–something we all tried to avoid due to pungent odors and lack of water to flush–Yenni pretended to wash her hands so she could talk to me.
“What’s my name?” she asked.
I met her the day before and felt like I had to pass her quiz or she would get very upset. I often forget names but not faces, and for some reason, Yenni popped into my brain instantly.
“Yenni,” I said and she looked at me like I’d just given her the best birthday gift ever.
“So what do you want to be?” I asked her.
“A doctor,” she replied.
I knew it; this girl has something special.
I alerted nurse Judy Krieg to this special girl and she promised to keep an eye on her, as once in a while you come across someone outstanding, and I believe Yenni is a star. Perhaps a future nurse Judy.
An eye chart test on the children.
As nurse Judy said over and over again, “All is good,” a phrase I’ve adopted in my own life as it has such a soothing effect on your day to day routine. Another phrase I love to hear from Judy, “It is what it is.”
The younger kids showing so much affection to one another. It felt good to see that.
Angie explaining how the kids need to brush their teeth. We saw so many young kids with cracked teeth. Half of the tooth was missing.
So I have the first child I really would like to help as I believe she can make a difference in her community. Unfortunatley she doesn’t have access to a computer and when I asked about mailing her letters, she looked at me not understanding what mail means. Any suggestions on how to keep in touch? Have you ever had an experience like this where you’ve felt like sponsoring a child?
I’m in a hotel room in Naples, Florida right now, looking at a future place to move to. Once you move around the world, you keep wanting to move; at least I do. More later.
Sonia, It is so cool that you found such a special little girl. Maybe there is some way you could stay in touch with her through Nurse Judy. I have a feeling you will find a way. I hope things are going well with your house. I will be in LA tomorrow night…leaving a day early for Cabo, because of a storm coming here.
Both Yenni and Judy sound like stars! Very special people.
About wanting to sponsor Yenni – why don't you contact the organization you volunteered with in order to find out if this is possible? And if it isn't – then why not suggest it as a way of further helping the community?
You have a good heart!
Cairo Typ0 says
A little girl who wants to grow up and help her community by becoming a doctor? Definitely a special child. 🙂 I'm not sure how to advise you about keeping in touch or sponsoring her. Is there an organization in the area that can facilitate for you?
Moving again? wow!
wow! that's awesome! did you keep in touch with nurse judy? maybe she can give you advice?
Wish I could have met you in LA before you fly to Cabo. We shall have to meet another time. Have a wonderful vacation.
I think I shall ask Judy how to stay in touch with Yenni.
I hope Yenni gets the chance to pursue her dreams.
Yes, fortunately I can keep in touch with Judy.
"All is good."
I support this:
Save the Children Finland http://www.pelastakaalapset.fi/en/home – > humanitarian aid
Lauri Kubuitsile says
Too bad you're already home. Did you manage to meet Yenni's parents? If so that would be the best way to keep in touch with her. Does Judy know her?
Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Good for you!
Elizabeth Bradley says
I hope you find a way to stay in touch with her. How wonderful that you remembered her name.
Good luck on your search for your next perch.
Hit 40 says
I have children at school that I would love to bring home to love. They tell heartbreaking stories. I take extra food for them to eat. And…
this is in AMERICA !!
What a touching story.
Hopefully, Yenni will see her dreams come true one day.
LZ Blogger says
I've never been to Belize, but a friend of mind went on vacation down there and just loved the beauty of the place. ~ jb///
I had not heard of this organization. Thanks.
I did not meet Yenni's parents and I don't think they speak English. I think the best way to help is via nurse Judy. I spoke with Nicholas Kristof tonight, a Pulitzer prize winner who writes for the NY Times. I asked him about how best to help Yenni and he said, "Don't send money directly to her or the family, go through a person, and so Nurse Judy, is the right one.
I want to stay in touch. I also would like to see her again.
Glad to hear that you are helping these kids. Are there many who need help?
Just listened to Nicholas Kristof a Pulitzer prize writer for the NY Times and asked him how to help Yenni.
Yes, it is beautiful.