Sue Werner is the founder and director of Hearts in Unity, a local non-profit organization dedicated to a mission to feed, clothe and educate the orphan and at-risk children of Tanzania. Join us as we explore a world on the other side of the world and life in the small, remote villages of Tanzania, Africa. Karibu! Welcome!
It was the day before Easter. A grandfather and his 2 young grandchildren – a girl and a boy – stopped by our Hearts in Unity display table at the Mall to see what there was to see. We often bring a laptop to events so we can share our slide show of photos of “Life in Tanzania” for people to look at.
The granddaughter, perhaps 7 years old and younger than her brother, eagerly watched the photos with great interest, and began to ask questions about each one. Why are the children carrying wood on their head? What do they use the wood for? What are they doing by that river? Is that water in those buckets? Are those bananas? Why are those clothes on the grass? Look! A chicken! What is that? What are they doing there? Why? What? How? Why? I was delighted with her animated interest, and could tell she was intently listening as I answered her questions and helped her draw comparisons about her life here and what it is like to be a child in Tanzania.
Her brother and her grandfather stood patiently behind, quietly looking at the photos and listening to our conversation.
At one point, the granddaughter paused, looked at me questioningly and said, “Look. They don’t have shoes on. Don’t they have shoes?” “No, honey, “ I replied, “Those children don’t have shoes.” Her questioning look changed to confusion. She then lowered her eyes, and her eyebrows drew together for a moment as she thought about that. I added, “But that is one of the things I am trying to do…to get shoes for all the children in this village.” She looked up at me again in simple acknowledgement and then turned to look at the photos again.
Her brother and her grandfather still stood patiently behind, quietly looking at the photos and listening to our conversation.
The granddaughter and I were then back to our animated question and answer exchange as we looked at the next photos. I didn’t notice as the grandfather reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. He laid his hand on my arm. Our eyes met for a moment, and he handed me a large bill. As my conversation with his granddaughter paused, she turned around and saw her grandfather hand me the money and she asked, “What’s that for?” He looked at her with a gentle smile and quietly replied, “This is to buy shoes for those children.”
At that moment, I don’t think she realized the full impact of that exchange. But after a short pause and looks to her grandfather and brother, she seemed pleased with the answer.
After a few more minutes of photos and conversation, the grandfather told his grandchildren that they better move on to go find their grandmother as she was probably waiting for them. The grandfather and I shook hands as I thanked him again. As the granddaughter skipped away with her older brother on one side and her grandfather on the other, she smiled and waved goodbye. I smiled and waved back.
As they walked further away, I heard the granddaughter continue to talk about the children she saw in the photos. And while the grandchildren probably didn’t realize it at the time, the grandfather, in his gentle and unassuming way, had taught his grandchildren a priceless lesson of compassion and sharing through his simple act of unexpected kindness.
As I turned away, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes:
“We won't always know whose lives we touched and made better for our having cared, because actions can sometimes have unforeseen ramifications. What's important is that you do care and you act.” - Charlotte Lundsford
To give a gift of a pair of shoes to a child in Tanzania, please visit our donation page at www.heartsinunity.org