I am writing this post as a very tired person. I may come back to edit it later but I fear if I don’t write it this very second, I may lose it. Please excuse any mistakes you may come across.
I am a very picky person, in how I give. I think to a large extent we all are, some causes appeal to us more than others. I have harboured a lot of guilt about the many charities and or initiatives that I was just not compelled to give to. This past weekend, in the middle of very heavy reading, I thought I’d take a break and connect with my girl Oprah. I read her anthology of ‘What I know For Sure’ columns. If you know me you will know how much I love Oprah and hang on most of what she says. But as much as I love her, as a publisher, reading that book was a painful exercise, no structural consistency whatsoever. However that does not take away from some of the powerful messages and lessons she shares in that book. I am going to speak to just one here.
On top of being picky about what causes deserve my time, I am also very lazy. I am the person who WILL cry when she sees something devastating in the news but am never moved beyond that. I always mean to do something, but never do. Don’t judge me, I have already said I have spent a considerable time of my life engulfed by shame and guilt over this.
Someone very close to me started an NPO and asked me to be a part of it. I agreed because how do you say no to your person? And also I never actually imagined we would do it. In my lazy state of being it was going to be one of those things we talk about and perhaps even cry over when we are drunk but never actually do anything about it. I was wrong, Mpho was dead serious. She was going to make us do this thing. And to my shock and delight we actually are doing the damn thing with some of other colleagues on the NPO. Our NPO is called WOW (Woman On Woman) and has evolved into what I will call a burning need to create safe spaces for girls and women. Our first initiative was to run a campaign to collect sanitary pads for girls in schools. Our first drop-off was yesterday, at a school in Marapyane a village in the J.S Moroka Municipality, I still struggle to understand why they fall under Mpumalanga though.
When we arrived, I was immediately hit by nostalgia and transported back to my own school days many, many years ago. I went to a boarding school and so all visitors anticipated and otherwise always caused quite a stir. Yesterday, at Lekholoane Combined School the stir was palpable. You could feel the energy of the inquisitive boys who didn’t understand why they were being excluded from the activities in the school hall, although we would later learn there was a ‘boys talk’ happening with health officials recruiting for a circumcision drive. When we got into the hall we were nervous, at least I know I was. I walked into that hall, into these girls lives (ages 12-15), with the heavy knowledge that theirs are lives riddled with pains and problems I had no experience of. Their blank stares told me they could have been thinking the same. We have not had a debriefing session yet but I am quite eager to find out what the other ladies thought walking into that room.
This post is not so much about the blow by blow of yesterday as it is about what that afternoon meant to me. I am not going to attempt to imagine what the afternoon meant to those girls, for all we know it may have meant nothing, a drop in the ocean. Standing there watching the girls open up more and more and engaging in the conversation , my girl Oprah’s words came tumbling down on me.
“Every gift is your way of expressing how you feel about another person.
I know for sure that’s what we’re here to do: Keep the joy thing going for all seasons.”
As the girls came up one by one to receive their bags of pads and toiletries, the joy in my heart gave me an ‘a-ha moment’- again a reference to my girl O. That every feeling I felt in THAT moment must be what life is about. The joy that comes from giving is one of the most beautiful gifts God/Universe has given us. When I stood close to Mpho at some point she said “I could do this every day”.
What I know for sure is that we have been given, so we could give and thus know one of the greatest emotions that a heart could feel. JOY!
Thank you Mpho, for the greatest gift ever. I look forward to finding more pockets of JOY through WOW.
We are hoping to be able to gift these girls on a monthly basis and are therefore still collecting pads and toiletries so if you would like to contribute please get in touch with Mpho at firstname.lastname@example.org.