Friday, 21 January 2011

A serious man giggles joyfully

Something unexpected happened yesterday: I saw a child become a different child.

Two small boys were sitting outside a house in the SOS Children's Village Santo, eating rice and chatting. As I walked by, the two started waving at me. One of them even got up and ran towards me. Then, all of a sudden, it hit me: that's Sonson!

Sonson and his SOS auntie - Photo: Sophie Preisch
 Running faster than his little legs would allow, the three-year-old fell but immediately got up again and kept running. The other boy came up as well and both of them started talking to me exitedly, but in their own language, which I still don't understand enough to be able to know what they were saying to me. Instead, I tied Sonson's shoelaces as the two of them kept happily giggling and looking at me with their bright eyes. Then they ran back to their plates of rice and sat down again to go on eating as they waved their goodbyes.

This little encounter made my whole day!

I first met Sonson in November as the boy who overcame severe malnutrition and who, to everyone‘s surprise, was getting stronger by the day and walking about just like the other kids. "When the boy was brought here in march 2010, I was sure he would never be able to walk", says a co-worker who saw Sonson when he arrived at the Village in Santo. "He wore a shirt that was way too big for him and his legs looked like strings coming out from under that shirt." The boy was estimated to be about two years old, and was found naked and alone by journalists. Under the care of his SOS mother he grew stronger and stronger. Still, he seemed quite absent-minded when I first visited him.

Saving his smile for other occasions - Sonson is a serious man! - Photo: Sophie Preisch
 Today, Sonson lives with his ten SOS brothers and sisters in an SOS family house. Up until the end of 2010, he still had 17 SOS siblings living with him. Many children then moved to the temporary shelters. Sonson's SOS auntie tells me that she's still kept busy, though, because Sonson demands a lot of attention: "He wants to share everything with us. For instance, he calls me excitedly to tell me when he sees a beetle".

Sonson is watching us shyly when we visit to take some pictures. He is not as chatty as he was with his friend in the garden, but he still seems curious about his visitors. "It's hard to get a smile from him, he's a serious man", says the SOS auntie jokingly - but by now I know that this boy is nowhere near as serious when there are no cameras around.