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Meet Lil Jon
Shirley Michael - PYP

It is not always doom and gloom at PYP. Sometimes someone comes along who brings the biggest smile on your face. During our travels in rural Zimbabwe, we stumbled on a young boy who had accompanied his hard working parents to the fields and was looking after his baby sister whilst parents tilled the fields. (How could we all forget his name. Doh!!). We’ll call him Lil’ Jon for now till someone remembers.

His life must be so tough (or so we thought), spending all his time in these haggard looking fields whilst baby-sitting his sister in the scorching African heat of the savanna plains when he is just but a child himself, requiring a babysitter even. Much to our surprise, Lil’ Jon took it all in little his stride as if this was second nature to him. He did what was asked of him so meticulously that his mum & dad did not even bat their eyelids but just got on with what needed to be done. We would never condone the use of child labour in whatever shape or form, and we felt so much for Lil’ Jon who should have been running around the plains with his mates chasing a plastic football & picking wild fruits. Jon however went about his activities with the most infectious smile we had ever seen. It seemed he never saw what he was doing as ‘work’, rather it was part of his play schedule that he looked forward to be doing everyday. There is a warm feeling that comes with the realisation that someone you genuinely feel sorry for, does not, by any token, feel that way for themselves. Lil’ Jon seemed surprised that we were so concerned about his welfare, all he seemed to wish for at this moment was that we join him and baby sister for the games he was teaching her.

As he liked to play football with his friends after the fields, we kindly gave him a football kit so he would look presentable the next time he went for a kick-about with the boys. What followed is something that we will cherish for as long as we live. It is sights like this that bolster your resolve to soldier on with this heart wrenching chosen career path and lifestyle. Lil’ Jon, with reckless abandon, went on a wild run across the vast fields waving his arms in the air like a bird with the biggest grin ever, plastered on his dusty little face, seemingly without the slightest care in the world.

From this experience, we came to the conclusion that if there existed a scientific tool to measure happiness, this genuinely jovial free spirit would, no-doubt, be found to be much happier than those spoilt, Playstation addicted, gadget totting, TV obsessed but still grumpy sprogs we have become accustomed to, the world over. Our visit to the slowly and agonisingly recovering Southern African nation had been fraught with sad stories and heart wrenching tales of lost hope and failed opportunities but here was one oasis of unadulterated joy who leaves you putting all your moaning and grumpiness into perspective. Lil’ Jon’s beaming smile will forever be etched in our souls.

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