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Goodbye to Temesgen

by on June 19, 2013



Lollipops were being handed out one-by-one to 45 street kids waiting patiently but excitedly in a class room with a green tarp for a ceiling. I was trying to pass Temesgen like I was every other boy. He was nervous about being singled out and hesitant to be followed by a white American with a big camera. Each kid was handed a random lollipop without regard to size or flavor, but when his turn came up, I sneakily tried to give him one of the biggest.

He was terrified of being singled out. In the hierarchy of street children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he was on the lower end. I had seen him a few nights before begging for food from individuals and restaurants only to have to give it to the older, bigger streets kids in his neighborhood. Having a white girl from the United States follow him around with a big camera made him uneasy sometimes. On our last day together I wanted to treat him as any other kid, at least in front of the other kids.

Temesgen and AnnaAfter each kid had been given a lollipop and the wrappers were scattered, I pulled him aside and gave him my sunglasses he had jokingly tried on several times in our week and a half together. They were just for him. He was being singled out again. But they were given to him in private.

His smile was nervous and excited. He tried to give them back, thinking they couldn’t actually be a gift. I motioned that they were his to keep. His eyes got big, he bit his lower lip and his cheeks rounded with a smile. He wasn’t nervous anymore, just excited. He kept the sunglasses on the rest of the day. He wore them proudly, not caring what the other street kids thought of his gift.


From → Street kids

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