This poem by Gideon Heugh appears in Tearfund’s Lent Devotional for 2018, a poignant picture of the hope which children bring to the harshness of life.

She looks at the arid earth
beneath her dusty, bare feet,
then up at the heat-squirming horizon.
Rain prayers leak from her soul,
but do not touch her cracked lips.

She balances the heavy urn
on her strong, proud head
and begins the long journey home,
hoping the water won’t harm her children,
knowing that it probably will.

She approaches her sun-scarred village,
a place too still, too quiet.
She sighs a moistureless breath.
But then a wonder sound floods her ears –
laughter, vibrant and alive and illimited.

She smiles as the children run and dance
their shining way towards her,
voices like answered prayer.
She walks on, and wonders
if they’ll still be free when she is gone.

– Gideon Heugh, Tearfund