What happens when you take 5 children and 25 teenagers and adults who want to make a difference in the lives of others to Zimbabwe for two weeks? Two days of travel at the front end and a couple of days of travel back home cut into our two weeks right away. A weekend resting at a safari camp takes another two days out of the work time. With so little time left for work, I wonder what we’ll get done. We have the goal of seeing up two playgrounds for two schools so that the children have somewhere to play. I know we must design them ourselves, cutting the wood and metal, putting it all together.
But, by the time this team leaves Matopos, Zimbabwe to head back home, some other things have taken place. As a team, we:
- Design, build and paint two complete playgrounds for two schools in the area
- Fix another playground
- Paint four classrooms, leaving them clean and fresh looking
- Read and play with countless children, reinforcing their English along the way
- Sew and put together 90 reusable feminine hygiene kits, helping keep over 50 girls in school and helping all the women save money
- Teach three sewing classes – 50 women and older girls so they know how to make their own kits in order to can start small businesses
- Distribute 500 school kits (notebooks, pencils, pens, erasers, rulers, file folders, etc.) to children
- Purchase and deliver 3 adult goats each to 35 families, starting a new livestock/garden site in Zimbabwe for AIDS orphans
- Purchase and deliver a veterinary kit for the new site to be used by the trained vet tech
- Purchase seeds for each of the 35 families, allowing them to put their gardening training to practice
- Repair and install a pump so that a borehole is usable again
- Winterize the dining room of the camp where we stayed
I think that sometimes we don’t feel we can change the world. And, maybe we can’t. But, if we each give of the skills and talents we each have and if we share what we have received, we can sure change someone’s life, even if it is a small change.
By itself, a feminine pad is no big deal. But, to keep a girl in school by providing her with the hygiene items she needs is life changing. If she finishes high school she’ll marry later in life, will have less children and will get a better job. This, of course, helps her family, her village and her country.
By itself, a goat doesn’t seem to be a big deal. But, give three pregnant ones to an orphan boy who is raising his siblings (along with training and follow up), and you’ve just changed that entire family’s life. They will become herdsmen and will soon be drinking good milk to help them stay strong and healthy. They will use the manure for their gardens. They will grow their herd and will sell animals to pay for school fees, clothes and medicine.
By itself, a piece of wood and metal is no big deal. But, design a fun playground and use the wood and metal to give children a place to play safely and you’ve given them the space to be imaginative and to learn to play together.
A seed by itself is no big deal. But, seven packets of seeds coupled with good training will turn a piece of land into a fertile garden, feeding entire families and giving the children a chance to grow up healthfully.
I am grateful to be part of these small changes in different lives, including mine and my family’s. Whenever we learn that giving kindness to another person is possible and that it has value, we grow. Whenever we learn that even a small gesture of nicety can change someone’s life, we all become richer.
I am so happy to be here right here, right now, surrounded by this group of people who all are giving of themselves to bring about joy and happiness to others, as well as to themselves.