[GUEST POST]: Township Environment

We are often inspired to support those less fortunate than ourselves. This Better Because of You Tribute is dedicated to Jim and Janet Jamer for their selfless efforts to bring more hope, light and love to the incredible souls trying to thrive despite the unfathomable hardships they must endure whilst living in the townships in South Africa.

We were so sadly sobered when we saw for ourselves the plight of so much of our humanity. It has been one of our deepest pleasures to provide just a wee bit of support.  I hope you will spend a few moments taking in the magnitude of both strength and strife that is reflected in these pictures and words. And, if you are so inspired, please feel free to contact Jim or Janet and see how you might be able to add your heart to this project!

AND … most importantly …

THANK YOU” Jim and Janet for being such amazing light workers. Our humanity is so much better because of you!

With deepest respect and appreciation for your hearts, Karen

Iizidima

IMG_2055 Knysna township

There are few days when we are not reminded that there is plenty to be thankful for in life. Given what we do in South Africa, we would need to be blind, in a physical and emotional sense, to not experience this sentiment. The living conditions and depth of poverty experienced by so many Africans, while in close proximity to areas of affluence and abundance, is jarring. Imagine visiting another planet each day,

DSCN0752 Shacks which will be demolished to allow for construction of government-provided homes

Similar to most of our supporters, we grew up in proper homes, a safe neighbourhood, raised by educated, employed parents, who provided us the material necessities of life. We attended good schools. Our friends and families lived similar lives.

IMG_2039 Temporary government-supplied, single-room wooden homes for former shack-dwellers awaiting construction of government-provided concrete-block houses (subject to a means-test).

We can’t recall a day as a…

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Kindness Stopped This Homeless Man From Committing Suicide

THIS is such a touching story. We can never know whose life could be better … simply because of us … because we showed some kindness.

Kindness Blog

Today I went to Dunkin (Donuts) and saw a clearly homeless guy singing on the side of the road and picking up change.

Eventually I saw him stroll into Dunkin, as he was counting his change to buy something I began to get super annoying and talk to him over and over again even when he didn’t really want to talk.

Since he had maybe $1 in change I bought him a coffee and bagel and asked him to sit down with me.

He told me a lot about how people are usually very mean to him because he’s homeless, how drugs turned him into the person he hated, he lost his mom to cancer, he never knew his dad and he just wants to be someone his mom would be proud of (along with another hours worth of conversation.)

This lovely man’s name was Chris and Chris was…

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Her Tears Brought Out the Kindness of a Stranger

Better Because of the Kindness of a Stranger! AND … we ALL have the opportunity and capacity to bring such bright points of light to the dark parts of people’s journeys! May this poignant reflection remind us of our collective and universal potential … ❤

Kindness Blog

‘heartlines’ wrote:

“I was sitting in the airport by myself crying.. embarrassing in public, but I just couldn’t stop.

A man gave me this. He didn’t say anything, just slid it in front of me when he walked up to his terminal.”

kindness of a stranger

“He’ll never know how much it means to me to know a stranger cares.”


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Better … Because You Cared Enough to Say Something

Source Unknown but deeply appreciated!

I’d like to share a remarkable story with you. It reinforces my desire to continue acknowledging all the ways I have become better, grown wiser and been serendipitously shaped by the people who have generously left their heart-prints on my soul.  I hope I can do the story justice!

One day, a middle-aged woman entered the crowded waiting room at the dermatologist office. She heaved a discontented sigh because it was clearly going to be a long wait.  She was aware, however, that she could pass the time begrudgingly or she could simply make the best of it.  She consciously resolved to use the ‘waiting’ as an exercise in building more patience (not always her strong suit!).  She determined herself to be a ‘patient’ patient. She had barely settled into her reading when one of the doctor’s receptionists plopped unexpectedly into the seat right next to her … gently apologizing for bothering her, but at the same time curiously searching the patient’s face and saying:

“I have a weird question for you. Did you, by chance, have a baby in February of 1986?”

“Yes” responded the puzzled patient with palpable rumblings in her heart around where this odd inquiry was headed.

“Oh good!” exclaimed the visibly relieved receptionist.  “I hoped it would be you.  When I saw your name come through the system, I was hoping I would get a chance to thank you.” With her eyes welling up a wee bit, she continued: “We shared a room in the hospital when our babies were born. My daughter was born with so many problems, it was such a rough time … and … you were just so kind to me.”

The patient felt herself feeling totally unworthy of the appreciation and a bit sheepish to accept the generous acknowledgment because she had absolutely no recollection of those moments at all.  She suspected she could not have been this woman’s roommate, but didn’t want to discount or dismiss the significance of her heartfelt recollection by admitting her total lack of recall.

“Oh my  gosh … that was 28 and a half years ago” uttered the patient incredulously.  “How on earth did you remember my name after all this time?”

With a wistful glance downward, the receptionist warmly acknowledged “I remember  it like it was 5 years ago.  I have never forgotten you. You even brought me carrots … to my house. You have no idea how much your kindness and caring meant to me.”

The patient was deeply humbled, because it really was true that she had ‘no idea’ … except for the carrots.  That comment triggered some unwelcome memories stored in the deepest recesses of the patient’s mind of an exceptionally stressful year when they had been farming carrots.  With that, the patient’s eyes softened  …  maybe, just maybe she could have been the one who shared that hospital room with the lovely receptionist after all.

It was the strangest thing though, because in that magical moment of awareness, the patient felt as if she were the one who was being transformed by the exchange. She could not believe how good it felt to know that she had somehow, however unwittingly, eased a very difficult time for a complete stranger.  She thanked the receptionist for not bypassing the opportunity to re-connect and gift her with that kind recollection.

The two women took some time to catch up on what their little baby girls were doing now that they were grown women.  The receptionist shared that it had continued to be a bumpy ride for her daughter in many ways, but things were OK.  The patient shared that her daughter had just delivered her first child … and … that her cherished 8 week old grandson might be facing a surgery.  The receptionist was all too familiar with such unwelcome things … she offered some empathic words of compassion for the patient.

As they parted, the receptionist re-iterated the gratitude she felt in finally being given a chance to express her appreciation.  She indicated that she had always wanted to say “thank you” to the patient.

Just as the patient was letting all the richness of the special moment land deeply into her heart space … another patient unexpectedly plopped into the chair beside her. It was a young lady who had caught the patient’s eye when she had entered the waiting room.  This wholesome 30ish(?) young woman was unpretentious, outdoorsy looking, and exuded a really earthy energy.  She was wearing a Bohemian style dress and she had a cap fashionably pulled down over her long blonde hair … beautifully highlighting her  bright, blue make-up free eyes.

Her name was Ayla.  She began by saying “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help overhearing you say that your grandson may need surgery.  I just wanted to tell you that my little girl had the same problem when she was a baby.  I can only imagine how scared your daughter must be.  I was a complete mess, but I didn’t need to be.  It went really well and I only had to give her a few Advil for the first day.  She was just fine after that.  Maybe you could tell your daughter so she is not so worried about it.” 

The patient was deeply touched by this genuine, sincere and compassionate offering.  She could feel the gracious warmth and heartfelt empathy that drove the young mother’s intention … she was benevolently intent on easing the fears of a complete stranger.

The patient contained her own tears of gratitude until Ayla was called in for her appointment.  She was overcome with emotion … an intense sense of appreciation for the blessings she had received that day in the crowded waiting room.  She could never have guessed the gifts that were about to be offered to her in her efforts to be the ‘patient’ patient ….

kindness everydayI share this story with you because it proves to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are absolutely no insignificant moments in any of our lives.  We can never begin to know, and may not even remember, the things we might have said or done that will spark something special and land indelibly in another person’s soul.

And, I can tell you that 28 years from now Ayla might not remember  the other patient’s name or how much her kind words meant to that worried grandma … but I certainly will. You see, that other patient was me.

And, it is my honor to use this public forum to recognize, acknowledge and celebrate these two phenomenal women …‘ Ayla’(from Fernie) and ‘Karen’ (the receptionist from the dermatologists office).  It is my hope that one day, you will come across this little blog … and then … I will get the opportunity, from the deepest place in my heart, to say “thank you”.  I will never, ever, not in my lifetime forget the time we shared in that crowded waiting room.

I am so much better because you cared enough to say something … Karen

stop and give thnaks

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