I can't hear the sound of a train whistle without thinking of our many children in Lakhtokia. With each blast I find my thoughts drifting to them... where are they? What are they doing? Are they okay? As I lay in bed at night and hear the long, loud noise I wonder if they are able to sleep soundly. I wish I could provide a soft place to lay, removed from the chaos found at all times in Lakhtokia. I don't even know how they ever find rest, but at night I always hope they are safely at home, surrounded by family. During the day when I hear the trains passing through, I picture them with bags slung over them picking trash along the tracks. I see them racing from one side to the other, narrowly escaping the oncoming train. I wonder if they are in the slum or maybe even at school. I hope that their parents are not fighting and that they have had something to eat. I see each of their faces and my heart beats for them.
Most days of the month, most hours in the day I am left to wonder. But on Sundays as they trains race by at lunch time, I know exactly where they are. They are by our side, giving us hugs and doing their best to stay in a line to receive food. Seventy five children, running across the tracks to gather round. Today Rosie and I made the meals and headed out on our own as everyone else was out of town. I worried as we drove there that two people was not enough to keep control of the crowd but as always, I was shown that everything would be taken care of. We piled out of the rickshaw and a man who sees us every week helped us carry down the food. As we started stacking the meals to be passed out, two of our regular girls found their way to the front. Before I knew it, they were stacking, marking hands and handing out the food on their own with just a little guidance from me and Rosie. I looked down at Asbanu and noticed that she had two little clips in her hair that she received last Tuesday at the street girls day. The clips were a Christmas gift from my niece that she wanted passed along to the children here. Seeing them in her hair at that moment reminded me that in the midst of all this chaos the children here remain connected to people all over the world. Just as my thoughts wandered to my niece, I heard a cautionary blast from an approaching train that brought me back to the ground under my feet and the little girl my niece's age who was giving me a goodbye hug. Another blast from the whistle and she was off, across the tracks just in time to disappear behind the passing train.