Hailu; little girl, close your eyes.
Hailu; little girl, hold your light close.
Hailu: little girl, do not let go.
Little girl Hailu, do you not know the world surrounding you?
Little girl Hailu, do not let the world take you to.
Little girl Hailu, do not let them steal your light.
Hailu, my little girl, close your eyes.
Close your eyes, take my hand.
I will lead you, I will protect you.
Hailu, my daughter, let your light shine bright.
Hailu is brilliantly warm little girl that I had the pleasure of meeting last year. Her captivating smile and contagious laughter made it impossible to stay composted or to hold a serious expression. Within minutes of meeting her she took me by the hand and treated me as if I were her best friend. In reality I was nothing less than a stranger yet she trusted me with everything. As she pulled me around and showed me her favorite spots to play along the river shore, she shared her treasured sugar cane with me, and even brought me into her home to meet her mothers and sisters within the most intimate of settings. I couldn’t stop thinking how thankful I was to experience this welcoming spirit. However I had a depressing thought sticking to the back of my mind that I just couldn’t shake.
What if someone else, another stranger was the person to come through this little tribe along the Omo River. What if they were intrusive, hurtful, or demanding of the native people living within this community? What if they came in to steal, cheat, or destroy the beauty naturally thriving within this community? This haunting thought is what leads me to act protective of the innocence resigning inside Hailu. I want to tell her about the dangers of the outside world, yet I don’t want to take away from her careless and free way of life. It’s a contradicting predicament of wanting to preserve and protect this beautiful girl yet not wanting to change anything, which neither can be done. I want to tell her, “Hailu close your eyes, hold your light close, and do not let go.”