The children in Mokanji are very friendly and many of them remember Josiah from when we were here back in September. While everybody is still trying to remember our names, they shout Josiah’s name from their houses as we walk down the road. Many kids do not go to school because of the lack of school fees and even if they are in school, I’m not sure how long they are there every day because I often see kids in their school uniforms outside our house well before lunch time.
The boys love to come over and kick the soccer ball around with Josiah and he is also tries to play cricket with them (not that he really knows how to play). He will go out and just hang out on a cut down tree with them throwing stones or use sticks to make some pipe scraps lying around into a drum circle. Lydia is our dirt magnet; she will go outside and play in the dirt for hours if we let her. She also likes torturing all the grasshoppers with sticks and climbing on the cut down trees that are in the compound. She seems to enjoy playing with the boys more than the girls because the girls are seem to be a little more aggressive while the boys are a little more gentle and helpful with her. She is very adventurous and has many a scrapped knee already. Sofia is our social butterfly. She loves using the Mende phrases that the other kids have taught her to make the adults chuckle and has no reservations about the locals picking her up and toting her around. Sofia gleefully pats us on the leg or arm and tells us about every bug, goat, dog, and chicken she sees and also enjoys roaring like a lion at the grasshoppers.
The kid life in Mokanji is not all fun and games. They have work to do; they often help with gathering the wood for cooking, preparing the meals, hauling the water, walking around the village selling food items, and watching over younger siblings. On one hand, they don’t have an easy life, they have to work hard; they have many struggles to stay healthy and get an education. On the other hand, they often seem so carefree and enjoy the simple pleasures of life like playing soccer and throwing stones at the trees.