Thursday, September 16, 2010
I have a friend who just celebrated her 10th birthday with a really fun summer party. For the past five years this young girl has asked her friends who were coming to the party to make a donation to "Africa" in lieu of gifts. This story began when a young man named Kuntai came from Africa to live in Haliburton (through the Canada World Youth Program about 6 or 7 years ago). Kuntai lived with several families while he was here, and one of the families was this little girl's. While living there Kuntai told stories about his life in Africa. One story was about his home community Il Ngwesi (ilngwesi.com) where the children had to walk 7-10 km each way to school every day. Children under the age of 7 were not allowed to walk and so had to wait to start school. In the community where the school is located, the children started school at the age of 5. Kuntai wanted to start a small school in his community for the children to go to until they were 7. He had to find a space, get supplies and hire a teacher. The young Haliburtion woman wanted to help and so she started raising funds at her birthday party each year. Other people soon started to help and now the school for the young children has been running for several years.
A few months ago I did a qigong workshop with a teacher and at one point in the class she told us fold our hands together in front of our hearts and then reach out as if we were "sending love out in the universe" and then we brought our hands around and placed them on our stomach and she said "and as much as you send out to the universe 10 times as much will come back to you." I've thought a lot about what she said - the idea that what we give comes back to us in so many ways.
The interesting thing about the young woman in this story is that she asked for no gifts, but for donations to help a school in Africa. She, and now many others are helping the school. The kids who attend the birthday party happily make the young woman a beautiful card each year and include the donation. But each child always shows up at the birthday party with something homemade for her and she always ends up with the beautiful gifts. This year she received a carved soap stone pendant, a welcome sign for their new cottage, a piece of art to hang on her wall, a HUGE cookie that could feed a big party and a collage of family pictures, The kids have put so much time, energy and love into the gifts. What a great birthday.
I know of a number of kids in this community who have had parties and made donations to various causes in lieu of gifts. It is pretty cool to see such generosity at a young age. It is great to learn about giving at a young age and they just never know what will come their way because of it.