Jean Manie’s life after she graduated was nothing like what it had previously been. She was not the same woman we met when we first visited Moussa’s home. She herself decided to be one of the speakers at her graduation ceremony. In front of an audience of several hundred, she proclaimed that she was no longer a slave.
And the difference was more than just a change in attitude. She had built a modicum of wealth and a new way of life. She had friends, and in Claude she had something like family. But the difference was even more visible in Patrick. At Moussa’s, he had been silent, scared, always looking at the ground. Once he and his mother were in their own home, he became a happy, healthy boy. He would charge up to me any time I appeared, and try to put my motorcycle helmet on his head. With the helmet on, he would run around with his arms outstretched, growling to imitate the sound of the motor. He was happiest of all any time I’d lift him up so he could sit on the motorcycle itself. At the end of the program, he was about eight, and was finally able to finish first grade. His mother dreams that he’ll be able to go much farther than that. And maybe he will.
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