It began as another normal visit to the camp. The people recognized the car and the delivery trucks by the amount of dust spewing into the desert air as we left the road and crossed the open plain.
The men surrounded the vehicles and a few shyly shook our hands, even though this is not their custom, others nodded and gave us the greeting ‘Salaam’ – peace, while the mothers, young girls and children huddled in groups outside the tents wore smiles of welcome.
It was another hot, sultry day and swarms of flies made their annoying presence felt, buzzing around our ears and landing on our noses! All of a sudden a baby was pushed towards us and the pleading eyes of the mother wordlessly said- you see how sick he is, do something! Then, a grandmother in the group took over and told us all about the child’s sickness and the local remedies that had been tried. The list of those needing medical attention grew as we moved through the camp.
On a more cheerful and brighter note, Sr. Rebecca drew a very warm and positive response when she enquired if some of the young women for whom we had got sewing machines would be interested in becoming part of an income generating sewing project.
In the twinkling of an eye you could see seeds of hope springing to life within them. All they wanted to know was when they could start! Soon Sr. Rebecca was lost in a circle of young women each one eager to ensure that their name was on her ‘sewers’ list.
Armed with our different lists, one of the sick and the other of the sewers, we decided to move on to seeing what we could do about responding to both needs in practical and effective ways.
Then quite unexpectedly, just as we were about to leave, the women gave each of us a hand embroidered cushion cover incorporating the exquisitely intricate patterns of their tribe.
A gift is a source of joy at any time and even more so an unexpected one! But what made this one so special is that they gave out of their poverty while our gifts to them, (thanks to the generosity of our benefactors), were out of our abundance.
We felt humbled and privileged to be the recipients of such gracious giving.