Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Next Generation – Thanksgiving, 2015

There is so much to be thankful for on Thanksgiving – and it’s easy to be reminded of all of this when you spend Thanksgiving in a developing country.

But rather than say that being here on Thanksgiving means I’m especially thankful for having family, having health, never questioning where my next meal is coming from (except for those times when I am genuinely confused), etc…I figured I’d take this another direction.

I’m thankful for Quinn. (Her dad, my coworker, gave me permission to mention Quinn and use her picture in this blog…he probably didn’t realize how I was planning on using it though.)

I spend a lot of time volunteering and I give pretty generously to non-profits. I have a hard time explaining why I do this except for maybe I grew up with two very good role models. But this inherent sense of responsibility can actually be a weakness as it often means I find it difficult to convince others to volunteer or to make a donation to something. They ask why and I freeze – what do you mean “why”? Why are YOU challenging this??

So when I was telling my coworkers about my fun times buying massive quantities of children's vitamins, cough syrup (note: wasn’t stopped…?), underwear and soccer equipment to bring over with me to Selamta, I was not expecting anything to come out of it except for a few laughs.

Boy was I wrong. Later that night, one of my coworkers, Rob – who happens to also play on the CVS Soccer Team (RxNinjaBallz) with me – followed up with me to ask if I had room in my suitcase for one more soccer ball. I mean…of course! But why?

Why is because his 5 year old daughter, Quinn (who’s probably better at soccer than I am), wanted to donate a soccer ball to the kids in Ethiopia. Before I left the office last Thursday, Quinn showed up with her bright green soccer ball to donate.

This whole experience made me so thankful. I'm thankful to see this connection made between two kids across the world from each other. And I'm thankful to see the inherent good in the world with this "next generation" of givers. AND I'm thankful to see the smiles on these kids' faces - I don’t know who is happier in their picture with the bright green soccer ball!
Quinn and Rob - making their donation!
I actually HAD to be in this picture because the Fasika and Dagim (L to R) kept running off with their new balls. The only way to get them to stop for a picture was to hold them. Not pictured is my tight grip.
The Selamta kids all have soccer practice on Tuesdays and Saturdays. I missed Saturday's practice so I was really excited to be there for Tuesday to bring the new soccer balls (and a football - in case we want to try to organize a Turkey Bowl game on Thanksgiving) to the field. I didn't get out of the office though before one of the kids (Dagim) found me holding the bright green ball. His eyes widened up as he knew EXACTLY what it was and who it was for (hint: him). He "helped" me out by taking it out of my hands (I was also juggling some other balls and some bottles of water) and played with it the whole way to the field - often passing to me but then just getting frustrated with my lack of skillz. When we got to the field he excitedly dribbled a victory lap to show off his new ball before the big boys were like "that ball looks cool - we want it" -- I had youngest child PTSD as I watched him watch the older boys kick the ball around. He was beaming about still being somewhat involved in the fun -- but -- youngest child PTSD about not actually getting the ball. 

Quinn is an oldest sibling, so I'm not sure she'll ever be able to appreciate this situation. But a little later on I smiled to myself as the little munchkin had recovered his bright green ball and taken it over to the wall to play without interruption from the big boys -- kinda reminded me of when Quinn shows up at our soccer games and has to play with herself while all her dad's friends are playing on the field. I know that if these two ever met each other, they would be instant friends!

So I hope you can have a happier Thanksgiving thinking about these two kids - on opposite sides of the world, but being connected.

1 comment:

Bags said...

Great way to connect the dots Elizabeth...thanks and thanks for thinking of doing this....