There is a little teddy journey that unfolded on this mystical island of Madagascar during the past week. Jade my daughter of 6 left South Africa bearing gifts of little Cuddly “Bush Babies” that were given to her by Woolworths to hand out to each of the children receiving corrective cleft surgery through Operation Smile, close to 200 of them. I will never forget a few weeks ago when she arrived back from school, I said to her, “Jade, go and see what is in your room”, she dropped her bags an ran off, this was followed by silence for about 5 minutes as she struggled to open the 2 large brown boxes. Then – yes, chaos broke out.
There were shrieks, uncontrolled jumping and running around the room as she struggled to contain the excitement of seeing these hundreds on little “bush babies” their large eyes staring at her out of the boxes, she had never seen so many toys in one place. But, you can imagine the battle that persuade when we tried explaining to her they were not for her and that she has to give them away.
“A teddy, a cuddly little thing that most things children take for granted, some children are so attached to them that life is just unbearable without them, to others, its the only soft cuddly thing they have ever touched. In Madagascar, most children will never see one, let alone ever having dreamt of one day owning a teddy, they are just too far down the list, there its find a meal, survive the day”.
It’s difficult to explain what joy the little creatures have brought to these children, most have travelled from deep rural areas of the island, totally out of their environment and comfort zone, bewildered, scared and totally overwhelmed by what it happening. These little bush babies have provided comfort and in a way a form of escapism to these children as they hold then, stroke them and cuddle up with them, drift away into dream land.
It’s astounded me how Jade has seen what these bush babies mean to the children, every day she checks the amount of kids scheduled for surgery, counts out the bush babies, packs them into her carry bag and off to the hospital she goes with the Operation Smile team. In her words she says – “To do my job”.
“Life is not about how happy you are, but how happy others can be because of you”.
I think Jade has just learnt her biggest life lesson.