Can you imagine meeting a child who didn’t know how to unwrap a gift?
MAF staff serving in South Africa did when they flew in Christmas shoebox presents to crèches in the remote Venda region. Sitting with their gifts, it became clear that the youngsters had never received a present before and needed to be told how to unwrap them.
As the children began to excitedly tear away at the wrapping, the small ball inside each box became an item of complete fascination. Creative modelling clay and other small toys were also a novelty – but witnessing the joy on their faces was the most special moment of all.
Their boxes also included sanitary items such as toothpaste, a toothbrush and a bar of soap – another first for many of these impoverished children.
Not by chance
The crèches to receive these gifts was not coincidental. MAF staff have supported children’s centres in South Africa’s remote villages of HaMakuya and Gondeni for over a year. Relationships have been built with both the children and their carers, so adults also received special gifts of umbrellas, hats, mugs and sanitary items on this special day.
Once all the gifts had been unwrapped, two students flown in by MAF for this precious occasion gave a demonstration about how each gift could be used. With nothing physical to offer in return, the children then sang songs expressing their gratitude.
Some of MAF’s South Africa team were able to join the trip, which was also an moving time for them.
‘I have realised that most people in remote areas are living hopelessly with few facilities – especially kids and young people,’ explained Precia, who serves as MAF’s database administrator. ‘Small children in this area have absolutely nothing to help them lay educational foundations.’
While the bleakness of poverty in the Venda region clearly impacted Precia, her colleague Maggie focussed on the positive outcomes of the flight. ‘I could see in the eyes of those lovely children that what we did made them feel loved and special,’ she concludes.
The gift of God’s love and warmth is one truly worth unwrapping, and it was a privilege to present it to some of Venda’s poorest children.