After a long day spent teaching art in Ethiopia, one of our staff members summoned me on behalf of a student. Now 12, Mekdes was one of our first students and is with me as a helper/mentor with the little kids. I am told she wants to tell me something privately, and I am guided to an empty room where I find her standing in the corner for privacy, with a beautiful gourd in her hand. The gourd is carved out and dressed up to be used as a carrying vessel. She has the teacher help her translate to me that, because of my sponsoring her and my commitment to coming to Ethiopia, I have made a difference in her life and she wants to thank me. Tears stream down my face as I hug her, knowing it is a memory that will always be with me.
If the story had ended there it would still be worth telling, but it doesn’t end here. I finished up my time in Ethiopia and got on a plane bound for my family and home in Michigan, arriving back in the States just days before Christmas. The holidays are a pretty wild time to return from Ethiopia with the culture shock I still get every year, going from kids who have nothing to fully decorated trees with piles of gifts for children who have piles of stuff.
I found myself contemplating these differences on Christmas Eve while sitting in front of my fireplace aglow with flames … and then my little gourd caught my eye, and I noticed a crack that must have happened in transit. My heart sank a bit, until I noticed a flash of white visible inside the gourd through the crack Opening the gift had not occurred to me. I now wondered what was inside, opening it up to see what I would find. A note. I quickly opened the note, finding a written thank you from my little sweetie Mekdes. The note was accompanied by the lyrics to Bob Marley’s “One Love”. She asked me to listen to the song and think of her. Oh, the tears that followed.
As an adult, there is nothing on my Christmas list. Yet, I received an incredible present on this Christmas Eve none the less, and ironically it came from a little girl in Ethiopia who has so very little.
I think of the Bob Marley song “One Love” and of the One World we all share. I ponder our interconnectedness, and the power of a kind act. I will never forget the gesture of gratitude from Mekdes. It appears Mekdes will not soon forget that half a world away is a woman who cares enough to be sure she is in school.
Acts of Love.
Acts of Kindness.