Strong for his fourteen years yet as thin as can be, Hakim lives in southern Africa with his family, who are farmers struggling to get by. There is much love in his family and he would do anything for them, yet it was with a heavy heart that Hakim quit school to help out on the farm. He longed to travel beyond his village, for Hakim knew there was a big world out there; he had seen glimpses of it-- on the Internet.
"Well, they say I'm tall for my age. My mother says, 'Hakim, you must have a hollow leg,' as all I want to do is eat all the time. That’s just not possible where I live. Sometimes it’s too hot to grow food and then there are the monsoons-- so much rain.
"My family barely has enough food sometimes for one meal a day and my two younger brother need to eat to grow. I watch over them. I'm okay though. I am strong and very fast—in fact the fastest kid in my village.
"One year we had running race for the whole township—many villages. I came in second and would have won except this big tall guy entered the race at the last minute. He said he was 17 (the oldest age that you could be to qualify for the race). But he wasn't. He was closer to 20. The grown-ups didn't know at the time. They found out later. They let him keep the title. Didn't want to make trouble. Some of the bad guys were his friends.
"I'd like to be a doctor when I grow up. Our Sagoma, the faith healer, says that I have the touch, that I'm gifted. I don't know about that, but I do feel so good when I can help. I wonder, where would I ever get the money to get advanced schooling? It must cost a lot.