The thorns in Africa are big and the terrain is rough – and if you don’t have shoes, you are going to have a tough time. That is something we saw clearly as we took a hike to a nearby Maasai village. Everybody needs shoes, but not everybody can afford them.
Therefore, one of the greatest gifts you could give someone living in the harsh African conditions is a pair of good shoes. This is what we aimed to do in a Maasai village in the north of Tanzania, as well as at a local clinic about 90 minutes from there. However, what we did not take into account, was the generous hearts of the people we visited.
To make the handing out of shoes fair, we had a list of names – and as someone’s name was read out, they came to select a pair of shoes. As they patiently waited for their names to be called, the pile of shoes got smaller and smaller. This meant that many of the people on the list could not find shoes that fitted them. Yet, this did not put them off. In fact, they were just as happy to receive poorly fitting shoes, as they would have been to receive well fitted shoes, as it meant that they had an opportunity to bless someone else with the gift of a pair of shoes. It was an incredibly humbling experience to see these people walk miles, just to receive shoes that did not fit, never complaining; instead, sincere gratefulness was written all over their smiling faces, because they could now help someone else…
This can serve as a great lesson to all of us, especially during this Christmas period, to remember that it is more blessed to give than it is to receive. And the amount of material goods or the size of your bank account does not determine how generous you are, that is determined by the size of your heart.
So, let’s learn from these humble people of Tanzania and let’s focus this Christmas on being a little more generous towards those in need.
Written by Dr Jaco Beukes