Most of us speak about doing charity work one day, or donating thousands of rands towards a cause as soon as we have the means to do so, but in reality it doesn’t always happen. I used to be like that. It was as if there was a fear of helping or a fear of not really helping once I get there. One day, the opportunity arose and there was no room for excuses any longer. I raised my hand in church during a call to outreach, and for the first time, I was a volunteer.
Following this outreach, I had been working on an event that was adamant to involve charity. Having volunteered previously, I suggested the same place I had been and this shelter became the official charity of our event. The first time I visited the shelter, I had been tasked with painting and there hadn't been any opportunity to spend time with the women and children there. This time would be different.
My boss at the time had suggested that we do a “donations drive” a week before the event and, following this, go spend the day there. As I started planning our mini pre-charity event I managed to secure enough food, cold drink and sweets for all the mommies and children. I even managed to organise a magician that would be the main attraction.
Finally the the day arrived, I’m at the event, the chairs and food are set up, the children are sitting in their seats waiting for something to happen. I’m walking up and down at the front gate trying to contact the magician who appears to have fallen off the face of the earth. That was my main act. I had absolutely no idea what to do. Then, like an angel, Kim Jayde Robinson appeared. After some discussion, all of us decided that the best thing to do was let the kiddies eat so long, after which the mommies joined in.
Whilst handing out food, we decided that we were not going to sit and cry over spilt milk, but rather play games with the children ourselves. Kim and I got the music playing, constructed two rows of chairs and started to play musical chairs. This is something that we grew up playing, but these children almost had no idea what it was. They loved it! They say the best sound is that of children’s laughter, and it was there in abundance that day. They were overjoyed. After a good game of musical chairs, we moved over to dance battles. One would not believe how dancing brought out the deepest joy in these children. Some of the moves were silly and others very talentful. We announced our winners who then received a tiny cash prize, one that made them scream in celebration. As the energy of the games lessened, it was time to quiet it down, and I asked a friend of mine, Anel Visser, with the most beautiful singing voice, to perform a song for the children. One moment later and all of us joined in singing Amazing Grace, the Hillsong version. For a moment, money didn’t matter, status didn’t matter and everyday pain was gone.
I stood in front of everyone, said thank you, and that we were blessed to spend the day with these beautiful souls. All of a sudden, children were charging at Kim and I, and threw their little arms around us, embracing us and thanking us for the day. Their moms came to us with tears in their eyes, telling us how special their time with us was. Then it dawned on me, a magician would’ve ruined the day, as we would not have had the opportunity to spend time with these children, to get to know a bit more about who they are and experience their wonderful personalities.
This day taught me the importance of interaction. Many people donate money, give clothes or food, but very few actually take the time to give love, which is the most important thing anyone needs. If all of us could just give more love, and it doesn’t even have to be to the needy, but maybe to that colleague that you dislike, or the neighbor you never greet, or the lady packing your food at the grocery store, then maybe our world wouldn’t have so much darkness and sadness in it.
So smile at that random person, compliment that girl with the insecurities, or laugh at the awkward guy’s joke, because true magic lives within us. You never know whose life you could be changing.