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The universal language of dance

World Vision
17 June 2014 by Therese Johnson
The universal language of dance

Ei Ei Phyo shows her dance moves for World Vision staff. Photo by Mike Amos, World Vision.

I love to dance. Dancing has always been a big part of my life. As a young girl I used to perform on stage, always looking for my mum in the audience. Even today I still enjoy having a boogie, or at least doing my best ‘running man’ impersonation.

Luckily, not many people have seen my running man impersonation.

Dancing is a universal language that brings people together. It was dancing that united me in a special moment with six-year-old Ei Ei Phyo when I visited her family in rural Myanmar.

As a communicator for World Vision, I was visiting Ei Ei Phyo’s community to see how World Vision is helping distribute life-saving food aid to families who don’t have enough to eat.

Ei Ei Phyo’s farming village has been ravaged by years of drought. Families are unable to grow crops, their only source of food and income. When her family runs out of food, Ei Ei Phyo goes hungry.

“It makes me want to cry,” said Ei Ei Phyo’s mother, when asked how she felt when she couldn’t feed her family.

It made me want to cry too. It’s not easy seeing a hungry child denied a basic meal.

Fortunately, food rations of rice, beans, oil and salt from World Vision are helping to ease the hunger of Ei Ei Phyo and her family.

Ei Ei Phyo is a playful girl with a cheeky smile and infectious giggles. Her father is often away looking for work, so she lives with her mother and two younger siblings in a small bamboo hut with just one bed and a small area for cooking.

Living in severe poverty, Ei Ei Phyo doesn’t have many toys or possessions. But when she told me her favourite thing to do was “dancing for my mum”, my heart melted.

Ei Ei Phyo eagerly performed her dance routine for us, gracefully spinning in circles, crouching down low then springing back up in the air.

A big smile lit up her face as she danced. While her mother looked proudly on, we applauded her every move.

When she had finished her routine, I decided to give it a go. I tried to emulate her spins and springs but my adult legs were no match for hers. I fell flat on my face.

Ei Ei Phyo was in hysterics. I got up and tried again, this time trying harder to elicit those infectious giggles. A few of Ei Ei Phyo’s friends joined in watching the spectacle and after my second failed attempt, they were all in stitches.

This time I noticed a few more chuckles coming from behind me, and I turned to see a small, intrigued crowd watching my every move. It seemed that some of the villagers were also entertained by my haphazard performance.

I decided to try a few moves of my own. My flailing arms and legs were met with squeals of delight and laughter.

It was good to hear children’s laughter when I knew that in this village, hunger was ever-present. Despite her family’s desperate situation, Ei Ei Phyo could still smile, laugh and dance.

And somewhere in rural Myanmar, a small village has seen my running man impersonation.

See how you can help provide life-saving food to children like Ei Ei Phyo.

Therese Johnson

Therese Johnson is a Copywriter at World Vision Australia.


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