This I Believe

Mark - Columbus, Ohio
Entered on December 11, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe in committing to simple acts of kindness

I keep a small framed piece of African cloth on my desk to remind me that often, simple acts of kindness can make a significant difference in others lives, nearby, or on a continent thousands of miles away.

My wife is a longtime quilter and devout optimist, who truly enjoys doing things for others. A bit of a rare breed, in that she not only thinks about doing things for others, but searches out good deed opportunities, often at the expense of her own busy schedule. Some time ago she attended a quilting event and was visiting with a friend and vendor who sells small pieces of fabric embroidered by women from an African village. Proceeds from the sale of their crafts are returned to the women who use this income to help support their families and community. Because of limited material and thread, their work comes on 2” squares, requiring intricate detail. There was a photo on the table of the women of the village sewing, and my wife noticed that one particular woman seemed incredibly cheerful, but wore a pair of glasses with only one lens. When she inquired, her friend shared that while that many of the women have poor eyesight, they have limited resources, and are often required to “make do” with what they have.

That evening my wife shared this story with two of her sisters over supper. A discussion ensued and on their way back to their hotel, they stopped by a local “Dollar” store, where they emptied their pockets and purchased about 30 pairs of reading glasses of various shapes and sizes. The next day she delivered the glasses to her friend at the table and asked if she would deliver them to the women in the village on her next trip to Africa.

Months passed, but one afternoon my wife came into the house with the mail and found a letter from her friend. She opened it and read aloud the note which expressed her appreciation for the gift and confirmed she had delivered the glasses to the women of the village. She also included a few photographs of the women wearing the glasses, sewing, and smiling broadly. One photo included the same cheerful woman who she had seen before with only one lens, wearing a new pair of glasses. She noted that she was allowed to make the very first selection, and her face beamed with pride. In a separate photo, many children gathered also wearing the glasses. The joy and smiles on the faces of the woman and children in these photographs served as a reminder of how gracious and appreciative our new friends were for the small blessing they had received. I’d like to think their smiles were even a little brighter, knowing that someone from far away, cared enough about their eyesight, their livelihood and their beautiful artistry, to commit to a simple act of kindness.