There is hands-down, no question one person I miss above all others from my village, Ovia Ollo, in Suriname. Maiamba. She was my 7-year old neighbor girl, who turned into my best friend. My first day in my village I remember her very clearly. I was standing at the side of my bat shack, with a couple of huge buckets of water trying to wash the never-ending grime off of something-or-another. She bounces up to me and just starts an endless stream of chatter, all while standing either about 2 inches from me, or leaning against me. I was extremely exhausted, having just moved into my shack and having spent the last day from dawn to dusk scrubbing my place and meeting very curious villagers. I immediately thought that this little girl and her endless talking was going to eventually get on my nerves. I was right. She got on my nerves, and right past them. She turned into my basic reason for being in Suriname. I fell very in love with this little elf of a girl. I came to regard her as my best friend, my shadow, and in a way, my child. If I ever have a little girl of my own, I’d love her to be exactly like Maiamba. Maiamba is quirky and unusual, she has some serious spunk, she is smart, and she is very loving. She is wonderful. Unfortunately, her mother was gone most of everyday working in the fields, so she did not get much attention. This little girl was very needy for love and attention. Because of this, I made sure to give her lots of hugs, which I sorely needed also.
Maiamba said to me one day, “Megan, do you notice that wherever you are, there I am?” I responded, “Yes, I actually have noticed that.” She replied, “Yeah, I’m your shadow.” Very true.
Anyway, I think about this little girl a lot, and when I do, fairly often I start to cry a bit because I miss her and know that at 7, it was probably pretty hard for her to understand why I left. She’ll stay with me in my thoughts and heart for the rest of my life. She really made my service possible and for that I’m extremely grateful.