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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Africa (03/05/09)

TITLE: Hope We Can Eat
By john garner


"Francisca, the man say we can see Mama and Papa again. Come, let us listen to him!" Her young brother, Raoul, excitedly urged, grabbing her hand with a yank.

"No! Many have gone away, and none have returned. Do you see any of them? Help me with the clothes, then we must bring water from the river and prepare our meal." Francisca was very mature for eight years old, but inside she truly wanted to believe like her brother.

"I know that no one ever returns, Sissy, but I still want to see Mama. And he promised a goat for milk, too!" Raoul persisted.

"A goat would be wonderful for the whole village, but he did not bring the goat, did he?" As the head of her family, Francisca could see what was practical, and her survival and her brother's have depended on it since their Papa and Mama fell to the devastating plague of Aids. There were some elderly villagers remaining in Katito but more than half of the adults had perished and another third were dying, not only in this village but throughout all of Kenya. Missionaries came with great promises but most of the time, though they truly wanted to help, they had to leave and the village has remained much as it was.

As Francisca worked on with her never-ending chores, Raoul came running with their cousin, Antwan, hoping he could persuade his stubborn sister.

"Hello, Antwan, have you no work to be doing?" She expected more false dreams from Antwan, her ten year old cousin.

"Francisca, you...must...believe!" Antwan insisted, trying to catch his breath from running.

"Why must I? We cannot eat hope or drink good water by promises! Leave me alone!" Francisca ran into her small grass dwelling and began to cry. As she fell on her knees, she raised her head but the words would not come. She felt a nudge in the back and was ready to punish her little brother, when she turned and was face to face with a wild animal. She screamed. "What is it!"

"It is a goat, Francisca!" Raoul screamed. "Do you hear? They are drilling a well, too! And chickens! They come from Warul Vishun and He say we are dopted by his church in Tek-Sus. It is hope we can eat and promises we can drink!"

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This article has been read 409 times
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Lynda Schultz 03/12/09
Love that last line—it sums up your message perfectly.
Loren T. Lowery03/12/09
I think you have a real knack for story telling. In doing so, it's important to try to show and not tell about the characters and their situations. Tough to do in 750 words, I know. For instance where you wrote: ("Hello, Antwan, have you no work to be doing?" She expected more false dreams from Antwan, her ten year old cousin.) The reader should know this about her expectation from her actions and not by the writer telling it to be so.
That you, as a writer, can do this is evident by the next passage: ("Francisca, you...must...believe!" Antwan insisted, trying to catch his breath from running.) Immediately we know something about Antwan and his sister. Hope that makes sense, keep up the good work.
Norma-Anne Hough03/12/09
It is indeed a hope and a prayer of the many thousands throughout africa that are caught up in this dreaded situation. Good storyline. Keep writing.
Christina Banks 03/12/09
Well told tale. I was glad for a happy ending.
Josiah Kane03/12/09
Promises you can eat! Surely only something that God could provide. It was wonderful seeing how he handled the plight of your orphans. Your characters did seem a little too well educated for their circumstances. Nevertheless the skepticism and then sheer joy at being loved was very well played out.
Ruth Ann Moore03/12/09
I love stories where there is hope; Hope We Can Eat certainly fits the bill. I loved it when the goat bumped the girl in the back, and her subsequent reaction to this. Nice, enjoyable read.
Karlene Jacobsen03/14/09
It is difficult to imagine an 8 year old being head of her household, but I guess it could happen. My question would be then, how old was Francisca when their parents died? Where is this cousin, Antwan's parents?

I would love to see this expanded. You do have an ability for storytelling.
Shayne Catoe03/16/09
The promise of hope in the beginning, to see her parents once more, is beautiful. The adoption by the church in the end solidifies that hope.
I like the way we see this destitute and desperate situation beyond the children's control, remedied in part by the church. There is so much room to broaden this piece into a larger story. I hope you do. Good work.