Humidity hung thick in the air, beads of sweat dripping from my forehead. I blew the hair from my face and pulled it all back into a ponytail as I watched them crowd together, clapping their hands in time to the music. There were about 40 children living at the orphanage. Some were just babies, eyes like crystals, glistening in the everyday light of the sun. Others were a bit older; they had grown up there, all together, right at the heart of Kenya. Smiles lit up on their faces as a dozen of them charged my way, throwing their slender arms around me in a loving embrace. Laughs exploded from the huddle as the desert dirt coated us, like magic fairy dust. I could only hope that all their wishes would come true. We gathered everybody into a circle and the beat began, first the African drums, and later the feet stomping and the clapping. Strong vocals all came together as they sang in unison, dancing to the rhythm. It was like nothing I’d ever heard before; the beat reflected their souls, their spirits. I joined in, looking round at each child in particular. Each one of them was so beautiful, so unique. The shirts I had brought them hung loose on their slim figures, but the vibrant colours only added to their beauty. Giggles escaped them as they thought of new beats, working together to add to the song. They were family. I glanced behind me at the orphanage, nothing more than a shed in the middle of a bare desert; their beds non-existent, their bathrooms buckets. We’d long hidden the gifts I’d flown over with me, protecting them from the scorching heat. I sighed as I thought about the water bottles, the snacks, the school supplies, it was nothing. It meant absolutely nothing to me. Everyday things, so plain, so simple. Definitely not life-changing. Little did I know. I looked back at the children still singing at the top of their lungs, their talent shining like the teardrop that fell from my eye as I admired their joy, how grateful they were to be alive and well. I sung with them, inspired by their smiles, the twinkles in their eyes, their ability to carry on with next to nothing left. Their hope had stolen my breath away, and all I could do was dance with them, thinking of nothing but the beauty of the music, the simple, stunning, admirable music.
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