Brandy is currently touring Bolivia with a group of sponsors. Earlier in the week, the group visited a Child Survival Program, and Brandy and her group met Rosario on their home visit — a time filled with little things.
The ride to Rosario’s house is bone-jarring — at some point, you give in to it, letting your body go limp in an effort to preserve your joints, your rattling teeth, and your sanity. We stand at the dirt path leading to her home and call for her.
A brown-haired little head pops out of the window.
Two more little boys tumble out of the front door. We smile and wave, and they run inside, calling for madre.
Sometimes when I visit a home in poverty, I can take it all in at once, my eyes sweeping a dimly lit room, a barren yard, a cluster of giggling children. But other times, I can’t take it all in at once. At Rosario’s home, the scene is a montage, little bits, layered and complex.
I let in these little things to break my heart. A ribbon of stain on the pants of a child with no diaper. The swarm of flies on a bare mattress. The tired eyes of a new mother. The swollen breasts that cannot nourish her child. The rash, hot and angry, on tiny arms. A little one who has no name — because the “what ifs” can prove to be too much.
But a heart must be broken to be filled again. Filled with little things. Pink crepe paper to welcome baby girl home. Rubber duckies in the bathtub. A bag of rice, a box of oatmeal. The proud eyes of a mother. A hand held. The promise. We’ll be back mañana. Tomorrow.
We are quiet on the ride back, the only sound the rattling of our van. Our hearts are filled with the little things. There is no room for anything else.