Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Little Things

I met Neema in April on a scouting trip in Tanzania. I work with an amazingly agile south Alabama church that asked me to take them on an international journey. Once I met Neema, and the village where she ministers, I knew we had our destination.

Mutually beneficial partnerships are important to me. I didn’t want to impose what I thought the village of Kidete needed onto an unsuspecting group that was too hospitable to tell me otherwise. In April, I asked Neema questions about women’s reproductive health.
What are some pressing needs of women in Kidete?
Where do the women in the village deliver their babies?
How do women in the village handle their monthly periods?
Do women in Kidete wear underwear?

I already knew that the overwhelming majority of women in the area lived on less than $1 per day and that sanitary napkins were a luxury item that most women could not afford. Neema told me that women in the village didn’t wear panties. Without panties, how would a standard 21st century sanitary napkin be of use to them? There was no garbage pick up in the village. Sustainability was key.

I returned home with a plan and the women of Elba got busy crafting re-usable sanitary napkins. We decided to call them Kidete Couture, which, in my opinion, is the hip name they deserve. 200 were made and enthusiastically transported to Tanzania by our group that visited this past summer.

The items were distributed one afternoon. Listening through an interpreter, we heard Neema explain the couture. The women’s applause needed no translation. I was overwhelmed by their gratitude.

Sitting with the women in the village, Neema told us that it is often the big issues groups attempt to tackle. She was thankful for large gifts, but she said, “Sometimes it is the little things that make a huge difference.”

Neema’s comment about the little things stays with me. I wonder how the women are doing and what other needs they have. I think about the lessons I could learn from the women of Kidete and how my life is better because I know them.

What are the “little things” for the women of Elba? They don’t need sanitary napkins or running water, but what do they need?

What are the little things for the women in your “village”?

Today my little thing isn’t tangible. Today my little thing is encouragement as I navigate uncertainty.
What are your little things? I really want to know.


Anonymous LiaStarLight said...

Little things all add up to big things. I hope you found your encouragement.

1:03 PM  

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