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The Performance

Treana finds Docas

Whenever I return to Cameroon I’m asked about Docas, the little girl I met at the HOTPEC orphanage almost 10 years ago. On every trip I make sure we have a few quiet moments to reconnect with my favourite friend, but this trip is busier than usual. Our schedule is packed from dawn until dusk every day and I have three separate meetings scheduled on the morning we visit HOTPEC. Ms. Beatrice, the head mistress, is eager to tour me around the grounds and discuss upcoming projects, so I’ll miss typical playtime that I look forward to so much.

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With over 200 kids, I’m worried that I’ll miss seeing Docas entirely. We’re ushered into a classroom where kids of varying ages are seated. I search their faces, but Docas isn’t here. The older children are introduced as success stories. Having grown up at the orphanage, these young men and women have defied the odds and are now studying to be doctors, carpenters, teachers and more.

Additional students file in wearing costumes, taking their places to perform for us. I try to give them my full attention, but my mind wanders to Docas. Is she healthy? How is school going? Has she grown much in the last 2 years?

I feel someone staring at me and I’m jolted back to find Docas standing proudly before me. She is older and wearing makeup for the performance, but I recognize her immediately. She smiles shyly, a twinkle in her eye, as we exchange silent greetings. The drumming starts and the girls begin a beautiful traditional dance. The crowd erupts in singing and clapping, but nobody is more excited than I to witness such a display of strength, beauty and grace.

 

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Docas is stunning. She dances with pure joy and abandon, losing herself completely in the music. It’s at this moment that I know Docas is thriving and happy with her family at the orphanage. The presentation ends far too soon – I could watch her dance for days. I say a few words of thanks and pledge our support to upcoming programs that will ensure a brighter future for the children of HOTPEC, including Docas.

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Cheryl and Katie play with the children while I meet with administrators. They play with skipping ropes and blow bubbles, loving every minute of the visit. I don’t see Docas again before we leave, but for the first time since I’ve known her, my heart is not heavy as we walk through the gates. She is obviously being cared for with the love and support that she and every other child here deserve.

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