Thursday, November 29, 2012

Teddy Bear Day

On November 23rd, I held an event at my NGO to honor and show love to 147 orphans in my village. The cornerstone of the event was to give hope to these children and let them know that people care about them. To do this, the event included games and activities for the children, snacks, entertainment put on by former students from my OVC pre-school, speeches by orphans that have gone on to accomplish great things, and a very special teddy bear for each of the kids. This special gift was donated by The Mother Bear Project, a nonprofit organization based in the United States whose mission is to provide "comfort an hope to children affected by HIV/AIDS in emerging nations by giving them a gift of love in the form of a hand-knit or crocheted bear".

I have to say, being able to do this for the children in my village was something that will stay with me for my entire life. They were so thrilled to have something specifically for them and to be put on a pedestal for a day. Popping 5kg of popcorn during a storm and a power outage for hours the evening before makes for a good story but nothing would compare to the look on the children's faces as they watched me unpacking teddy bears onto the table in front of them. They were literally "awwwing" and jumped up and down with giddiness. But the true beauty of this event is in this story:

One of the little girls, who is around four-years-old, that is an orphan at my center and who has a very difficult home life, arrived in the morning thoroughly worn out. I can only imagine that she came to the center without breakfast and likely without much sleep, as this was customary for her. When she was called up to receive her teddy bear, she skipped over with excitement and then hesitantly took the bear from me. I believe her hesitation was because she is rarely given anything to call her own, like I alluded, barely even food. She held on to her teddy bear and hugged it and hugged it all the way back to her seat among the antsy children. A few minutes later, I looked over at her and she was fast asleep sitting up in her chair, clutching tightly to her teddy bear. It gave her such comfort int he moments after receiving it that she was able to sleep, even surrounded by noisy children. It did exactly as it was intended - it soothed her soul. In turn, it instantly put me at ease because I knew she had something that would provide her comfort and love, even when she doesn't get it at home.

I will forever be grateful to The Mother Bear Project for giving me moments like this one. And I will always hold dear all of the exuberance in their sweet faces. What a truly joyous event it was.

Pictures of the rest of the children with their teddy bears:

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