Student News

Notes from Abroad: Tanzania #8 — Sadam

March 14, 2014

Zz Salvador ’14 sends this reflection from Tanzania:

I remembered Sadam from the soccer game on Wednesday. He ran amongst the other 7th grade boys with a common flair and enthusiasm that I’ve seen all trip. He seemed similar to every one else. Same short height, same features. He would pass creatively like everyone else. He smiled, celebrated, and complained like everyone else. 

I sit on a wobbly table with a bright smile on my face, my feet bare and exposed like all the wide-eyed 7th grade students in front of me. Lucy Lytle, Tamara Deshong and I, a trio who have spent the day together making plant beds for Chinese cabbage and slurping down fresh Passion fruit, are now weighing and measuring JBFC students, part of the Healthcare pillar. I would call the name, attempting to pronounce Swahili names, but not the western ones (e.g John, Rosemary). Nervous and quiet, boys and girls whisper out their ages to a few westerners who are messing up their daily routines. From age gathering, I guide the child to Lucy, who then weighed, then moved the child to Tamara for height. I would write down the measurements.

I call Sadam forward.

“Sadam! Hbari! How old are you?”  I ask enthusiastically.

 ”18″ he whispers. Every kid whispered their name.

My smile fades a bit. But I follow protocol and guide Sadam to Lucy. 

 18 in 7th grade.

 An 18 year old, stands a foot and a half shorter than me. Me, a 17 year old, felt like an adult amongst these 7th graders on the dirt soccer field. But now, sitting, recording height measurements, I realize the effects of malnutrition in the developing world. I tower over Sadam. 

I consume a lot of food everyday. But only now do I truly realize the privilege of our excess of food in America. I never leave a walk through meal hungry. I have grown naturally, right along the Doctor’s recommended growth curve. 

 To those who read this reflection and think that Sadam is one of a kind, please know that about four other members of the 7th grade class were around the age of 17-18. And they all stood at the same height. 

I sit outside the circle of our ‘end of the day’ group reflection meeting.  As Mr. Miller ends the meeting, I quickly raise my hand and share my story about Sadam. I control a knot in my throat. I hold back a few tears. Once I got my story off my chest, a chain of stories, stories that went beyond the superficial, were shared by five of the members of this trip. 

 My advice to you: Look a little deeper in your structured lives. Don’t take for granted what you possess, or consume. 

 I receive the ball, a cloud of dust spreading in its wake. Playing in JBFC’s dusty communal area, I pick my head up and look for Sadam’s run down the right wing. About a dozen girls watch, sitting with dusty exposed feet. I find Sadam’s front foot with a bent, in-swinging pass. He touches the ball forward and firmly caresses the ball into make-shift the net, held down by bricks. With a smile, he runs in my direction, jumps, and lands a high five, with energy that every JBFC student possesses. 

 Knowing that my DA group is waiting for me in order to head off to Village night, I run off in my khakis and button down, the Tanzanian sky showing a biblical spectacle on the horizon. Sadam yells out to me “Kwaheri Zz!” I look back and wave, jogging into the distance.