Each year many donors, known to us as the "wonderful gift bag people”, fill up two-gallon Ziplock bags with specific items for specific girls. We deliver those gifts to the girls who left Bakhita Village and are living with guardians in various outlying villages. The trip to see each one is not always straight forward – imagine herds of cattle in the road, rocks larger than our vehicle that must be maneuvered around, soft red dirt that only four-wheel-drive can manage – not to mention the lack of addresses, street signs etc.
The reward comes when we finally arrive at our destination, and the girl we are visiting comes running to us with hugs and smiles. They now know that we’ll take the requisite photo to send to one of the “wonderful gift bag people.”
Last year, we discovered that when we visit a Bakhita girl there are usually several other children present – either living in the house or passing through. So, we bring many gift extras for the little ones – and big ones – who are not recipients of the official gift bag. This year, we filled a suitcase with extra dresses, underwear, shoes, stuffed animals and small toys. The kids are so happy to receive any small item but the stuffed animals and toys along with a lollipop were the most treasured. Store-bought toys are usually not an option for these families, and they are appreciated. At the same time, we leave a food parcel that is very welcomed indeed.
Blessing’s little sister was so happy to receive a new shirt and a small stuffed animal. She was just glowing. And Kedibone’s visiting neighbor couldn’t stop hugging her new toy. Macheba’s little cousin was thrilled to get a new dress and pointed out to us that she was wearing the dress that Macheba got last year – even though it was quite big for her. Her granny said that she rarely takes it off.
The boys seem to be shy and often remain in the background a bit more. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t delighted to receive a gift. A small boy at Mokgadi’s home was happy to get a new spiffy shirt that even had a little zip pocket. At the Makgato sisters’ house, there was one little cutie that took a small stuffed toy and immediately began to dance the toy around the floor.
We found Makuta, a young sister of Molatelo when we visited their house. Since we knew about her ahead of time, we prepared a good-sized gift bag for her with a dress, shoes, underwear and toy. As it turns out, Makuta had a friend visiting who was watching the celebration of gift bag giving and we quickly searched the magic black suitcase and came out with a dress, shoes and a toy. The dress and shoes were extras that some of the gift bag preparers gave to us. It worked out beautifully.
While searching for one of our girls, we came upon another former Bakhita Village girl who left a few years ago to live with her mother – who is ill and wanted her at home. They are living a very sparse and difficult life together. We happened to have another dress with us that was also an extra donated by a gift bag maker and we also had quite a bit of food left in the truck at the time. Voila – some things are just meant to be.
The girl, Molatelo, was so delighted and her mother also. How often will a big white truck come down a deserted, rocky, dusty road and drop off unexpected food and gifts. Thanks to all of you who made possible these days of extra grace with extra gifts.