A little girl in Africa

Today I have decided to write outside. On the whole it has been a beautiful day today, apart from a light drizzle earlier, and it is now a hot 22 degrees. The sun is shining, the sky is (mostly) blue and the grass is perfectly green. As much as people complain about living in England in the summer and how “we only get one week of sunny weather” etc etc, one of the benefits to the (not so hot) weather is that our grass is always green. Today there is a gentle breeze which makes 22 degrees not too unbearable…!

I am sorry if you are reading this and it’s raining. I have probably made you extremely jealous and now you are grumpy. I would be if I were you. I suppose that’s a bit like life, some days are sunny, and some are rainy. On the rainy days the grass always seems greener on the other side. But the grass would not grow without its fair share of sun and rain.

Anyway, that was a whole load of fairly useless information for you. You don’t care whether it’s sunny or rainy, whether I write inside or outside. So I’ll just get on with the writing part. *Contemplates just sitting here, sunbathing*


Yesterday I was summoned for lunch with my grandmother (Granny). It was inevitable really as I hadn’t seen her since before the end of term, and she likes to know what each of her 7 grandchildren are up to. She had visited my eldest cousin and her husband in June, been to St Andrew’s University to see my second eldest cousin, stayed with the third eldest for his July birthday, and had seen my brother and the 2 younger cousins at the weekend. So it was my turn. I have no problem going to see her, and luckily for us she lives close by, so it isn’t really that much of a hassle. In fact I had to pick up a suit that was being altered so I was in her neighbourhood anyway. But this time, I was a little nervous. Instead of a friendly invitation, she had sent me a veritable summoning… So I wondered what scheme she had in mind this time, what she thought I ought to be doing. Usually for my cousin Theo and I it has something to do with either school, or visiting Universities.

However, it seemed she had no such scheme up her sleeve. Instead, she wanted to talk to me about the child she had sponsored through the Plan International scheme. When I was younger and I used to visit her house, I remember seeing pictures of the little girl from Africa. Granny would never tell us anything more about her, other than that she was a little girl from Africa whom she sponsored. So I was intrigued when she started telling me about her yesterday. It turns out the tiny girl in the photograph had now turned 18, and so had graduated from the sponsorship scheme.

It had reached the time where she had to say goodbye to her sponsor, and Granny had to say goodbye to her. She had written Granny the most beautiful letter, thanking her for her many years of support, which had enabled her to get the education that many girls don’t have in her village. Granny showed me all the letters she had been sent, which show her progress throughout the years. As a young girl, aged 8-10, although receiving support from Plan International, she could not write at all. No one in her family had ever been given an education. She used to send Granny drawings instead of letters, because she could not form the words. 10 years on, she wrote a poignant letter of thanks, in beautifully neat script, setting out all the things that Granny’s money has enabled her to achieve personally, and for the whole village where she lives. From a background where she would never have had the opportunity, she now plans to go on and study as a nurse before returning to her home town to administer the medicine and skills she has learnt, to save lives where they should not be lost.

The letter also documented the projects in the village itself, from clean water taps, to stone school walls instead of temporary ones, to building a school kitchen, educating girls about menstruation so they were not afraid that they had something wrong with them, educating teenagers and adults on family planning, helping them with finances, and teaching women skills that would enable them too to earn a living, such as sewing and jewellery making. One of the best things they did was provide  each home with a solar powered appliances such as radio, and solar powered lights, which let children do homework when they got home from school, and so families did not have to rely on light from a fire in the evenings.

As much as education and medicine are big things that ultimately change lives, I will never be able to give this.  It is the small things for an individual that we don’t think of, like a lamp by which to write, which make a little difference. With a small contribution, I can aid a child get the education that will enable them to have a brighter future. I can help a girl realise that it’s normal to get your period, and not hide from society and refuse to go out every month because she thinks she has an illness. I can help save lives from the bottom up. You don’t have to be the greatest world renowned surgeon to save someone’s life. Sometimes all they need is a lamp, a radio, clean water, a school book, to see that the world can be whatever they want it to be, to realise their own future. We can show them what it is to show love for strangers. And we can give them the confidence to be who they want to be. What a wonderful gift it is to sponsor a child and to see that child grow into a woman who wants to go back and help others who are in the position that she once was. She gives back love, selflessness and service.

I think this is what my Granny wanted me to see. I don’t have to be a somebody to make a difference. I can be anybody. I am so grateful for what I have and I know that there are so many out there who will never be able to have that. She wanted me to know that I can help, show them love from so far away, and give them the chance to be somebody great for themselves. She did not summon me to tell me, she summoned me to show me.

I hope that one day in the future, I’ll be able to follow in her footsteps. She is one of my greatest teachers in faith, hope and charity (love) (she asked me to read that version of 1 Corinthians 13  at her wedding so that always reminds me of what she teaches me). So thank you Granny for always showing me what it is to give the greatest gift of all, the gift of love.


If you are interested, here is Plan International.

Also if you are interested, there are black clouds on the horizon…! Typical British weather 🙂

 

 

 

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