Tigger

We’ve got a new student in our class joining fantail and hedgehog and the others. We’ll call him Tigger because he’s got a certain amount of bounce in him.

Tigger’s mum is the school caretaker and teaches preschool. They live in a one room house with a single bed next to school. They use the school bathrooms as they’ve no running water of their own. Tigger’s dad isn’t around. His older brother has just been called up for military service.

He’s of the age and the disposition where going to shake your hand and pulling away at the last second is still hilarious. He’s chirpy and smart. Genuinely one of the loveliest kids you could ever hope to meet. Which is remarkable and heartbreaking all at once.

Tigger has a range of serious health problems. He’s diabetic, has a problem with his heart that we don’t understand, and an inoperable brain tumor. We say inoperable because his mum says inoperable. We can’t bare to try and figure out whether the same prognosis would be given if Tigger was being treated in the west.

The tumor will kill him eventually, but no one is sure when.

Tigger has been getting worse in the ten weeks we have been here. Mostly he’s fine, but sometimes he’s gotten crippling headaches. He becomes disoriented and faints. In the past week he’s been hospitalised for further investigation, but it doesn’t sound like they’ve found out anything new.

For some time now doctors have been saying that Tigger shouldn’t be attending school anymore. But he’s been going to a local Colombian school in the afternoons because he’s a bright and engaged twelve year old and he wants to be a Normal Boy. Seems like the recent stint in hospital is the final straw though. At least he can attend Mariposas, just steps from his home, and come and go as his pain allows.

Having him in second grade – when he should be in sixth – will bring some special challenges. But we, and the volunteers that follow, will do everything we can to make it a good experience for him. We’re hoping he’ll learn the ukulele.

The situation is a tragedy of the most beastly kind. Of course no one deserves to get what Tigger has gotten. But it seems extra capricious given he’s a bright, charming and good hearted kid.

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