It's impossible to describe Mary without writing a small book! This girl has proven to be an extraordinary tough child-leader.
A little history:
Akello Mary was in the first group of children selected to go to boarding school.
At first she seemed too shy and too little therefore was left aside.
We added her just because several people voted and humbly asked to take her in our program.
When picking children we typically look for two things: leadership skills and good benevolent heart.
That very first time there was no time to observe children to learn their behaviors and we had to rely on other people's suggestions.
In the picture on the top left you can see her age is written "7yo". Later we learned that she never knew her age (she was only 4.5!), but heard that we're picking children from 7yo so decided to tell that she already has the age we need!
Her true character strength was observed a couple months being in school.
The very first day I came back to Uganda and visited Walter Academy, children were helping kitchen staff to prepare nice meal.
Mary came first to peel potatoes and refused to leave after others wanted to join. The tiny girl showed the fastest speed in this task!
A few day later we're hosting a run at her village and registered 100 competitors who all received a medal, water bottle and a banana. Mary wanted a medal... and she WANTED IT! She came in the last, but with huge smile and extended hand with the "half way token" to prove that she truly ran the whole distance... and of course she go the medal!
Her academic achievements at first were very poor... until we told everyone "who will not perform well will be returned home".
She started leaping... I mean LEAPING!
From the second to the last now she is second from the top!
Her mom used to complain each time Mary is back home during the school break she doesn't want to speak her tribe's language. Instead she spoke English and no one could understand what she is talking about!
One day, (her English skills was not too good yet) she requested to talk to me via WhatsApp and said in PERFECT English: "aunty Jenny, my mom is moving away and taking me with her. I don't wan't to go. Please take me to be with you!"
Wow....! Mom ended up leaving her for us and now our FINALLY 7 years old Mary during school brakes live with her aunty at our Happy Village.
One day she walked with her fist closed for about 10-15 min.
When I've asked her "what is in it?"
She opened her hand and it was a tiny tooth!
Awwwww, her very first tooth came out and it was so heartwarming to witness it...
We sad down as I tried to explain about the the Tooth Fairy concept, asked her to keep her first tooth safely, but haven't followed up to check if she still has it or it got lost...
Hmmmm.... great self reminder for the future conversations with this absolutely adorable, tiny, but very tough girl.