Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2017 – The Other Side

Name: Sydney Parrott
From: Vernon, Connecticut
Votes: 46

Sydney Parrott

The earth underneath me was rough and had been broken into unrecognizable
remains. The air was thick with the smell of burning trash and decay,
so foul is masked the delicious smell of the grandmother cooking rice
for her grand children in the nearby hut. It was dreary, but when I
saw a little girl smiling down at me from her hut on the hill, I was
filled with with a sense of comfort that I hadn’t felt since I left
home. Her leg was completely contorted and she suffered from Cerebral
palsy, which made it extremely difficult for her to communicate and
be mobile.

What a beautiful girl you are!” I said with a soft tone. She stretched
her arms toward me with her beautiful smile glowing at me. I quickly
made my way through their makeshift bridge, balancing on old planks
of wood that supported me just enough to save me from a nasty fall.
The little girl was waiting on the other side with her hands
stretched out, so I picked her up and sat her on my hip. Her home sat
on top of a rock that was separated from the rest of the hill. It was
small and made from various scrap metal. With the child on my hip, I
moved the curtain above the doorway to the side and walked in. The
hut itself had only one room. It had a sanded down floor covered in
rags and had a small stove across the room. A mother and nine other
children sat with their backs against the wall, staring at me. I sat
the girl on the floor and she maneuvered her way to her mother. I
could feel myself shaking. It wasn’t because I was scared or felt
unwelcomed, but it was apparent that the mother and her children were
very sick. I had never seen anyone look so dead in my life. Their
eyes sunk back into their skulls and their skin was stretched thin
along their emaciated bodies. I could see their chests moving up and
down rapidly, but they sat there completely still and expressionless.
The mother turned her face to me and said something that I would
never forget, “Ede mwen!” In her native language, creole, she
asked me to help her. She had such pain in her voice, she had
suffered unimaginably. Not knowing what to do, I slipped my backpack
off of my shoulders and took out a bag of rice. Although it seemed
like nothing, I know it meant everything to this family. I suddenly
felt a familiar hand on my shoulder. I turned to see my mother behind
me, holding medical supplies. I placed the bag of rice on the floor
and slipped back behind the curtain. So I perched my body on top of
the makeshift bridge overlooking the village. The sun was setting
over the lush forest and the children were playing and dancing
together under the remaining sunshine. As my feet were dangling
underneath me and my hair was being swept by the mountain breeze, I
realized that there was beauty in all things and in all places. I had
this mentality that the things I’ve seen in my travels to the
Dominican Republic were so unreal and so horrific, that it
be real. It took me to meet this family to understand that I was the one
who was living outside of reality. As a result of everything I have
seen, I realized that their is a much greater need around our world
that deserves my attention, I just have to take the time and look for
it, even if it’s from a little girl’s perspective.

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