He toddled towards me, an arm outstretched to hand me the bright yellow balloon that had been dangling from his mouth only a few seconds prior. His eyes were wide with anticipation as he watched me transform the limp deflated rubber into a round, shiny balloon. His name was Yusuf, and he and his sister lived with other young girls at a small orphanage in Nasr City.I had been briefed about the orphanage the night before the visit, and was told about how clean it was and how well looked after the kids seemed, so I’d had the chance to build a mental picture in my mind and chose to visit on ‘Eid day with friends. Was I disappointed? Absolutely… not. The flat the children lived in was clean and furnished in a practical, child-friendly manner: comfortable sofas in the front room, a large dining table for them to eat at, and a bed for each child in the bedrooms. I wasn’t impressed, more like relieved, because all too often you hear horror stories of orphans being mistreated while living in complete squalor. Thankfully this wasn’t the case for the 8 children at this orphanage.It’s easy to visit an orphanage with a face of condolence, because technically the children have lost their parents in one way or the other. I didn’t delve into trying to find out why they were there or even how long they’d been there, as that wasn’t the purpose of the visit. We decided to inflate balloons for the kids, talk to them and play with them instead.
They appreciated the fact that above all else, we saw them as children, despite them being orphans, and most of them warmed to us as we ran about the front room chasing them, throwing balloons into the air and going on a tickling rampage. I had just as much fun as they did and my thought was, It’s Eid, this is what it’s all about.
They tried to hijack my ballons, so I hijacked theirs too.
Hearing their high-pitched shrieks, and seeing their wide twinkling eyes and their bright smiles on such a special day was a joy that I would gladly pay if I had the chance, because in reality, it’s priceless.
– The Londoner