Today would be a special day for us. Our entire group was off to a center in Singida that featured a Child Survival Project. The CSP focuses on mothers who are pregnant or have babies and toddlers. Mothers enrolled in the program receive health care, education, and nutritional assistance. The mother’s choir performed beautifully for us. The project report was given and I’ll have to admit it was a little hard to focus with little faces like this one. There was so much cuteness!
We toured the project and learned about programs that were designed to help the mothers become economically self sufficient. They were being taught sewing, weaving, and batik making. Batik is a dyeing process that resulted in beautiful clothes like these.
We found out that we were able to purchase them directly from the project. I bought two to take home. I was looking to bring some cloth home from Africa just like this, and I was glad to know that I was helping to directly support these wonderful women. By the time our entire group had made it’s way through this part of the center we had completely bought them out.
After touring the facility we divided up into our groups for home visits. I had a special item tucked into my backpack just for this day. My mother makes cloth dolls that she packs into her shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. She sends some with me every year to place into the boxes that I pack. Last year, after the boxes had been packed and shipped off I found one of these dolls. It had managed to get left behind. I decided to pack the doll in my suitcase. I didn’t have a specific plan for it, but I just figured that I would know when to give it away. I thought that this would be the perfect day because we would be visiting with younger children.
I hoped that we would visit a home of a little girl. As we walked the short distance to the home I realized that there might be a problem with that plan. We were headed to the home of not one, but two little girls. We followed these sweet little twin girls and their mother to their simple home.
I turned to my friend Tawnya with a worried look. “I only have one doll….what do I do now.” I then said that maybe I was letting the American way of thinking get in the way. You know, where everything has to be equal and fair. I decided to play it by ear.
Through our conversation we learned that the twins were only 2 of the 8 children in the family. A relative also lived there as well which equaled 9 kids to 3 beds. After visiting with the family and presenting them with the food gifts I quietly told our translator Joseph that I had a doll to give, but I only had one. I asked him if it would still be appropriate. Joseph assured me that the family would be grateful and I should go ahead. I pulled the doll out of my bag and explained, through our translator, that my mother had made this doll and that it was given in love. I handed it to one of the girls. Her name was Loveness. She intently looked it over. Then the doll was handed to the other girl. Her name was Lightness. She stared at that little doll and even pulled it up to her face to feel it on her cheek. Her mother explained that Lightness really loves babies, more so than Loveness. Sweet little Lightness latched onto that doll.
I began to tear up. This was affecting me in a way that I didn’t expect. I knew that my Mom would be so happy to see this precious little girl with the doll. I also was struck with the fact that I got personally hand this gift over. I’ve packed many boxes for Operation Christmas Child. I pack them up and send them off with prayer. I often wonder what the reaction was when it was opened up. Was the child excited? Did they smile? Did they laugh and squeal with glee? It was no small thing to be able to kneel down and hand this gift directly to its recipient.