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Pride ‘n Purpose news: Shelly's story

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Check out Shelly's first blog here. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. To find out more about Pride 'n Purpose, click here.

I was so excited to get back to the community. It had been over a year sine I had left, and I still had the faces and laughter of my special little kids engraved in my heart. We pulled up to the community center and my eyes raced to see who was around. I sunk a little when I saw that it was fairly empty, with only scatterings of people walking by. We grabbed our paint bins and walked to the side of the building where the sisters had been creating their mural. Then, all of the sudden, I heard chattering, I heard little voices coming nearer. I looked over and saw a whole group of children coming towards us, filtering into the play area. I ran to the center of the kid-herd and started yelping "hello!" "hi!" "helloooo!", as they frolicked up to me and smiled wide eyed, grabbing my hand to pull me with them, wrapping me in hugs with their little arms.

Instantly, I recognised many of them as they came up to me, and I wondered if by some chance they remembered me too.

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I took out my camera and started taking pictures with them, and it all came rushing back to me why I fell in love so hard the last time. I hadn't planned on starting my photo project today, but it was now beyond my control, I had to get cameras in these kids' hands immediately! I ran inside and grabbed my bright green Fuji, little arms, legs, and fingers following right along with me as if letting go of my would make me disappear. To the small entourage encircling me, I gave a brief lesson on how to take photos themselves and how to view them after. They looked at me like, "Really? You are giving ME the camera???"

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It was precious how big their eyes got with excitement. I followed them around as they proudly gathered friends together to pose like models, or show off their soccer ball, or just act silly making faces. It was interesting to see how they shared the little green camera with their friends, passing it around for everyone to have a go; no fighting, no grabbing, no hoarding. I thought to myself, "In America, this would be mayhem". How gorgeous that in a place where they have nothing, their first instinct is to share.

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The images they took were outstanding! Almost 100% were of people and friends, rather than things. You could see that it gave them opportunity to play, to create, to act, and to interact in a new way. As we left that afternoon, I promised we'd be back on Monday They ran behind the bakkie as we drove away, one little girl actually having her tiny fingers wrapped over the edge of the tailgate as she tried to keep up with us. I'm so glad we had that day, because in the end, I wasn't able to make it back on Monday, or the days that followed.

My path took me instead to the high school Mawewe, three incredible kids, and a room full of teachers but I'll save that story for my next post.

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