Saturday, December 24, 2011

Abigails Christmas Shoes - update from Sherry Peters, Ghana

DEC 16th 2011 - Today at the local market in Ho, Volta Region, Ghana, Africa as I was walking  a young girl around the age of twelve, so they tell me (more like 8 to me), stumbled in front of me. As I almost tripped into her myself I looked down and very quickly saw the reason for her fall was a broken flip flop… so I asked Delali, one of the ladies that were shopping with me if we could buy her a pair of shoes… I just wanted to do it very quietly, not to make a scene or make the young girl feel embarrassed but unfortunately like everything you try to do in Ghana it becomes a public issue, especially if a “white lady” has anything to do with it. 
So we pick her out a little black pair of school shoes… She was so nervous as she tried to put them on. So much so the salesman impatiently told her to “fit them well” and finally when she realized they fit (kinda), a smile came across her face. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED….. Or so I thought!!

Before she left Abigail, the young girl, graciously permitted me to take a foto with her but as she went to walk away she put on her old flip flops, so I called her back thinking that this were her school shoes so she wasn’t going to wear them all the time.….so I thought well, what about every day, she will continue to walk and trip and eventually hurt herself from the fall… so I turned back to the shoe salesman and told him to give her a pair of everyday flip flops and with that everyone started to haggle over the price, I just wanted to pay and stop the public show, so finally I convinced the girl to put on her new shoes and go on..

However when I met Abigail in the market walking a short time later with her younger brother Foster and she was wearing her old shoes again but proudly carrying her new shoes in the black plastic bag she had given her to take her new shoes home.

Sometimes I really don’t understand the mentality of poverty… why would she not just throw away her old shoes and wear the new ones? Why place the old shoes very gently into the bag as she put on her new shoes? The gesture was like she was lovingly taking care of her old shoes.

I couldn’t sleep thinking about this young girl this evening, so I went downstairs to talk to the ladies (as they are still cooking at midnight for the lepers) to try and bring understanding as to why she didn’t wear the new shoes or why she wanted them to be a little too big for her and the girls had a couple theories… So before I close for this story at 2:10 am, I am going to share a couple of them….

1st- Delali figures that she is keeping them for her new “CHRISTMAS SHOES” that her parents would probably not be able to afford to buy her. And once the Christmas season is over, like church and so on, she will then wear them to school.

2nd- Roma thinks that she’s actually sleeping and holding her shoes close to her chest tonight because that will be all that she receives for Christmas and she wanted to keep them new.

3rd- Felicity and Dela says the reason she got them a little big was so that she can grow into them so then she can wear them year after year until her mother could afford to buy new another pair for her.

So maybe it’s not really the poverty mindset after all…. Maybe it’s a different kind of appreciation… or maybe... just maybe, it’s in this opportunity to share the true meaning of Christmas with a little girl called Abigail, in a local market that I truly discover, once again, the reason for the season!!! I FEEL SO BLESSED


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