“Khawaja Okey”

Khawaja Okey

“Khawaja Okey!”  “Khawaja Okey!”  the children in the camps scream every time they catch a glimpse of us.  This means something like:  “White man – you’re okay.”

Many children have shortened this phrase to just:  “OK!”  And others give you the nonverbal equivalent – an emphatic “thumbs up.”

“OK!” “OK!” “OK!” ring out as we pass.  Some children are content to wave at you if you are driving by, each anxious to make sure that you have seen and acknowledged their wave.  Others will come running perilously close to the car in their excitement.  If we are on foot, we collect a trail of children of all sizes (and adults too), all crowding around to see what you are up to; extending their hands to say hello.  The bold ones will touch you.  Many will comment on Mark’s hair (“he has long hair like a girl”).  Some babies cry in fright at the sight of a white man.

Suprisingly, almost none of the children in the camps beg.  We’ve only run into a couple of boys asking for “chocolate”, which means any type of candy (like in India).  Rather, they will offer you whatever they have if they happen to be eating something.

“Khawaja okey!” because the khawaja has helped them.

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