Every introvert alive knows the exquisite pleasure of stepping from the clamor of a party into the bathroom and closing the door.
I visited the Confident Children out of Conflict (CCC) Center in Juba, a place where displaced children in South Sudan are given shelter, an education, affection, and a second chance. I was greeted by Cathy, the center’s director. She was very kind, but also a bit nervous about my presence. She’d been briefed about my interview process. “We can talk about happy moments,” she said. “But let’s not ask these children about their saddest moments, or times they felt afraid. Many of them were malnourished, abandoned, or regularly sexually abused. Some of them have witnessed extreme violence. When journalists ask them to relive these memories, it can set them back for an entire month. They begin to act out. Often their trauma is so bad, that when the children first arrive, they can be very hateful toward me. But I feel blessed by the hate. Because I know it’s part of the healing process. And if they need someone to hate so that they can heal, I’m glad it can be me.”
A few minutes after this conversation, a young girl walked up to Cathy, gave her a hug, and ran away. Cathy seemed quite moved. “That girl was very badly abused,” she said. “She’s been here for months. And that’s the first time she’s ever hugged me.”
(Juba, South Sudan)
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It is comforting to know that I am not fighting this Battle of the Bulge alone. In a recent and very unscientific Facebook survey a friend polled her community by asking, “Eating more or eating less because of the ‘situation’?” The answers varied, but most came to the conclusion that war is bad for your waistline.