I planned to write a post dedicated to a fabulous lunch I had while attending a conference for work. I hunkered down in my conference seat to upload photos of said lunch, preparing to post from my phone (nothing could be more important than the blog, of course).
The video screen up front showed a girl with dark hair and darker eyes. She’s from South America, living in a rural, wooded area between the tree canopies and earth. Her mother is dead; her father is disabled and cannot work. Images of the girl wearing a pale blue headband, pink t-shirt, and a jean skirt flash by: she’s throwing tortillas on the grate over an open flame, she’s gathering wood from the forest floor, she’s rubbing clothes along a wash board, she’s removing a cast iron pot half her size from a high flame. She speaks: she misses her mother, she takes care of the house work and her younger siblings, she worries her family will not eat tomorrow.
She’s eight years old.
I fully expected to learn something about leadership and ministry at this conference. I do every year. But I never expected to FEEL so much.
Honestly, I felt a bit like a sucker. I’m sure you’ve seen similar images. People are in need everywhere, after all. I felt like a sucker because they had me right where they wanted me. Just like that, a switch flipped in my heart. I was in tears over a little girl on the screen.
But you have to understand…
SHE SMILED. Amidst the turmoil and hard work, she smiled. Her two front teeth are missing, she has a dimple in her chin, and her black eyes are shining.
More images: she puts on a backpack and walks a trail through the woods. Joining other children in a building with bright walls, she claps and dances and sings.
This girl was smiling, clapping, dancing, and singing because of $38 a month.
ONLY $38. We spent more than that on the fabulous lunch I mentioned earlier.
At the conference, I learned about world issues I’ve heard about before–AIDS orphans in Africa, sex trafficking, and education reform in underprivileged areas right here in the U.S. But now I saw faces to match the issues.
I’m venturing off blog topic here. So rather than show you photos of my lunch, I’ll show you one photo. This is Brenda Anatoli Salema. She lives in an AIDS-affected village in Tanzania with her mother and two siblings. Brenda helps in the kitchen, runs errands and carries water. She loves to play hide-and-seek.
Through Compassion International, I’ll be sending Brenda and her family $38 a month. I’ll give up a bottle of wine or a dinner out in hopes that one day I’ll receive a picture of Brenda smiling. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a happy smile.