As the editor of this here page, I’ve pestered many a person to write a story about a child that touched their heart. Onsite, I was primarily involved in the construction of the classrooms and as such my contact with the children was in little snatches of time. So, I figured I had a built-in excuse for pawning off the writing of these stories on others.
But, one particular child does stand-out for me and this is my story.
We took 27 bags of new clothes with us to distribute to the children. Each child received a complete outfit: shoes, pants, shirt, sweater (It does snow in Lesotho in Winter), touque and scarf. We distributed the clothing one child at a time in order to make sure that each child got one-on-one attention.
About half-way through, Yssie noticed that I hadn’t taken a child down the line to get new clothing. Now, I’m not very good with kids and there was plenty of other work to be done, so I had figured, leave it the pros; but, Yssie decided that I should.
You don’t argue with Yssie, so off I went in search of a child named “Kaebetsoe”. It turned out that Kaebetsoe was a little girl about 7 years old. She took my hand and I led her back to our little distribution area.
We fitted her with new shoes and began to take her down the line to receive her new clothes. At the first bag, we held up a few t-shirts until we found a pair that were about her size. We then offered her a choice. She had this big smile on her face; but, she just stood there in silence. She didn’t seem to understand the idea that she was actually being offered a choice. Through the entire process of selecting new clothes, she remained silent. It was all just too overwhelming for her.
Kaebetsoe, like the other children, didn’t pass judgement on anything she received. She was happy just to receive. But, it wasn’t just the gifts that the kids seemed to cherish, it was that one on one attention. They are never the center of attention at the orphanage. There are 43 children and just 3 adults.
To a child like Kaebetsoe, all that attention from what must have seemed like an army of aliens from another world, must have been quite a shock. We were, of course, an army. There were 27 of us; and we were aliens. Our world is very different from their world. But, when we reach out to touch the lives of others; when we step outside our world to help a group of orphans halfway around the world, we find that they touch our lives too.
I remember Kaebetsoe and I remember Dipou. I remember all of my new friends in Maputsoe. They changed my life and the lives of my friends on the team, just as surely as and probably more powerfully than we could possibly change their lives.
This is how we say thank-you. We say thank-you by pushing on and continuing our efforts to improve their lives.