Her name is Luca

I spent most of the morning reflectively opening and closing a photograph the best friend took of me with a certain little princess.

And I`m feeling just a tad saddened by the injustice of what life sometimes hands us. You see, the picture is of the Princess canoodling with a certain little madam called, Lucia. Lucia is a 9-month old orphan and has the disposition of an angel and the patience to deal with a highly dramatic Princess. Lucia has been orphaned since birth, left on the doorstep of the Mama Amelia`s orphanage in Mfuleni Township on the Cape Flats.

Mama Amelia has been taking orphaned kids in off the street for the last 30 years. Depending on funds, grants and the kindness of strangers Mama makes it work. She refuses to accept financial assistance from Government, as the government grant will only cover 7 orphans in the orphanage of 100 kids. As an added bonus, they will dictate how that money will be spent on those 7 kids. No…Mama Amelia runs a tight ship. Registered as an NGO and assisted and visited by a barrage of Social Workers, corporate companies and ‘friends`, she gets by all right. Her system is transparent, honest and ironclad. And she takes no crap from kiddies and adults alike…But she loves people and her warmth is enveloping. The orphanage itself is spotless, cramped…but spotless. Taking into account that the day we visited her it was raining cats and stray dogs, she still managed to present a clean home and clean, neat and well-mannered kids. The older kids assist her with chores and duties and are far more polite than most 14 to 16-year olds I`ve come across. Children, who eventually leave the orphanage, will come back years later to plough back time and resources into the only place that many of them would call home.

Mama Amelia accepts no money in hand. Investments of food, electricity, clothing and toys can be made to the orphanage directly. However, should you feel moved to invest financially, it must be a tangible thing (for example, should I want to sponsor the school fees and / or books and clothes of any of kid, I must make the payment directly to the school or purchase the school clothes or books myself). No cash in hand.

And the point is?

While we pontificate about how bored we are with our lives, how dissatisfied we are with our jobs or lovers, how irritated we are with our leaders…do we stop and think of those tangible things we can do to make someone else`s life better? Krisma-boet has instilled in me the sense of pay it forward and doing something for nothing. Somehow in the maelstrom that is our lives do we stop to think about the seemingly small acts of kindness and generosity on our part, that makes a huge difference in someone else`s life.

This is my belief and it is MY belief, so you should not have to agree and you might have your own way of dealing with matters: I don`t give street-kids money. Make no mistake; The Oliver Twists of our streets know where each and every shelter is. But kids are kids and they are naughty. No, they don`t all sniff glue and prostitute themselves. But there is a wonderful freedom on the street. No adults telling you what to do and how to do it. Nobody forcing you to go to school and you don`t have a responsibility towards anyone but yourself. At a shelter the kids are forced to learn respect, responsibility and routine. The three R`s. However, I cannot sit in my car and turn up my nose at a little street urchin *obligatory booger hanging on under the left nostril* and say, oh well, I know better so I won`t give you money. No Jean. You KNOW better, so why aren`t you doing more?

Everybody deals with his or her need to contribute to society in a different way. And it all makes a big difference no matter how insignificant the act. But I`m just wondering if we stop to think about the reality of AIDS every time we buy an AIDS sticker, or do we think about the citizen driven Yellow Bibbers and Crime Watch when we complain about the Police. I say…Less Jabber and more Abba, ladies and gents, Dukes and Duchesses.

Don`t talk the talk, if you`re not prepared to walk the walk. I`m not guilting anybody …I`m mostly speaking to myself. I like to offer opinions about politics, crime, the economy, the social situation but lately I`ve realised that I can make a difference in my own backyard. Instead of feeling helpless and defeated by the system, I can turn around and feel empowered by the knowledge that I am making a difference in someone`s life. I am not advocating a grand rush to the local orphanage, shelter, soup kitchen, etc. If it`s not ‘your thing`, it`s not ‘your thing` and, as I said before…we all deal with it differently (or not at all and that`s your prerogative).

What I do know is that I want to invest in someone`s life in a positive way. And because of the person that I am, I want to see tangible results.

Little Lucia and I will walk a path. Where that path may take us, nobody knows. Will I foster, will I sponsor…will I adopt? Who knows? I most certainly don`t.

But to see another human being fulfill their potential and to support them in that quest without recriminations, expectations or pressure…

that`s the most gratifying thing I can experience in my lifetime.

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