The little girl has come to the UK with her aunt and two baby cousins. She’s 8 but seems much older – carrying shopping, helping with her two baby cousins. Her aunt is alone with the children. Their father died in the camp where they were born. I don’t know what happened to the little girl’s parents.
“Hello!” I say.
She smiles in response. The interpreter, Badasso explains who I am in her language, Oromo.
Mum, wheeling baby in her first buggy (and just adjusting to this new experience!) is with Amilee, the family’s case worker, and the little daughter is holding hands with Badasso. Me and the little girl smile at each other and decide that we will be partners on this trip.
We’re going to the supermarket for the first time. The the little girl and her cousins are very excited about their first trip around their new home. They show none of Mum’s reticence.
Walking through the shopping centre we pass a Build-a-Bear and when I point it out, the little girl lights up with excitement. Maybe another day.
The little girl and her cousins grew up in the refugee camp. Some people have lived there for nearly two decades as on going conflict makes returning home near impossible.
In the supermarket, we communicate with points and smiles and the little girl chats to and reprimands the baby in Omoro.
When the shopping is done, we go to find a SIM card. The family are keen to phone home to to family left behind.
The little girl and I wait outside the shop with Baby. We look at people passing by and laugh at some of the strange new sites of the city.
I take my phone out and show the little girl my screensaver. It’s my two cats, Tibby and Milo.
“Give me one!” The little girl says.
I look at her and laugh.
“So you speak English!”
“Yes.” She says. And I laugh. So much for all that pointing! The little girl explains to me how excited she is to go to school here, and to meet some English friends.
Her huge smiles says it all about this chance for a new life.