I had a dream. A toe-curling, unnerving dream that makes me shudder every time I revisit it.
I was a single mother, living in a shelter downtown Toronto. I was despondent, wearing a faded, burlap robe knotted together with a frayed rope. I remained so fixated on my plight that I didn’t notice my five-year-old daughter slip out to work as best she could along the city’s busiest streets. I didn’t even perceive her return with a meager offering. It was only after she left again that I came to my senses with a mind-numbing jolt. I panicked and dashed into the cacophony of the city to try to find her. It was to no avail. No one had noticed her either.
I awoke and couldn’t find sleep again for a long time. It was then that I thought of Kenya.
I thought of the child who suffers the stigma of an incurable disease. Rejected.
I thought of the disabled child who cannot attend public school. Marginalized.
I thought of the child whose caregiver is so stretched, she has to fend for herself and brave a harsh, preoccupied world. Unnoticed.
That child finally had a face. My daughter’s face.