Just Your “Basic” Mountain Girls - Julia Dahdah
Well it’s almost time for us to leave this place and I’ll tell you how I know. It isn’t because our mountain girls left, and it isn’t because we are packing up our stuff and cleaning up our rooms. It is because my cold shower last night was nothing short of torture. I have grown fond of my daily cold shower because it is so hot every day and a cold shower is quite the treat to finish the day with. Not this time. Torture. So, with that being said, let me tell you about the other reason I know that this amazing trip is coming to an end- the mountain girls. These girls gave us quite the run for our money. I never expected to grow so attached to a group of people that I spent a mere four days with. I have never witnessed such eagerness and a hunger to learn and such a willingness to immediately love people they have just met. It was incredible to experience.
These mountain girls were the ones that I finally felt I made the difference with. The very first day I was paired up with a girl called Narlo and I immediately found that she knew absolutely zero English. Like, zero. At this point I just assumed that they were all on the same level and that none of them would know any English. Turns out I was wrong. There were four girls in this group of 24 or so that were at the same level as little Narlo. I immediately knew something had to be done, and from the three levels we split them into (based on English skill level), I pulled three of them out and did a separate specialized group for them, starting with the alphabet and what sound each letter makes. That night after we checked out, Nick (who also saw the need with these girls and pulled some aside separately from when I did) and I decided to start what we called, “Team Basic”. We added a fourth and final girl and during the first three hours of the day we, along with Hayley, pulled them into a separate room and taught our basic girls some letters. Now, they were all basic, but basic was brought to a whole new level with our girl Mano. Bless her little heart, but I think we got to the extent of English that this girl was going to learn. She was also the best stinking (literally) basic thing that ever happened to me. The best moment of my life with these girls was when I pointed to the letter ‘p’ and I wanted the girls to tell me which letter it was. Mano usually stays back and doesn’t say anything until the other girls say it first, but for some reason this time the other girls were not answering and all of a sudden Mano quietly says, “P, puh.” I, almost in tears, shouted in the poor girl’s face “YES!! ‘P’!!!” probably scaring the hell out of her.
We said goodbye to the girls after a solid four days and it was full of a lot of people’s tears, but not mine, until one of my basic girls named Meeno came to hug me and started sobbing in my arms. Then I was done for and began to feel a few tears. This trip came and went just as quickly as I knew it would. I can leave here knowing fully that I did not waste any time focusing on things that would not be productive for the children. I know why I came here, and I was not about to sacrifice their time because I was focusing on petty things in my very pampered life. I would do anything for these girls, and whether or not I ever come back to this dirty smelly amazing beautiful country where all eyes are constantly on us, I will always remember these past 10 days and know that I really did make a difference, and I would not trade this feeling for anything.