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Dickinson to Durban » Mosaic Action » Reflection on our time in the Valley of 1000 Hills

Reflection on our time in the Valley of 1000 Hills

By: Anna McGinn ’14

Many people we interacted with while in the Valley of 1000 Hills could never imaging the comfortable lifestyle we all returned to after our time in the Valley was complete.  Despite the fact that the children we played with at the orphanage and the people we distributed food to have very little, they were proud and happy with what they had.  It was extremely humbling to see the sustained smiles on their faces although some do not have stable incomes, others do not have enough food, some do not have family, and many do not have any of these basic human necessities.  The people I met while in the Valley will forever be a reminder to me that one can find joy in everything, a smile, a hug, or a loaf of bread and that there is a reason to be thankful for everything.

Three experiences I had in the Valley illustrate this point.  First, when we arrived at one of the distribution spots, the older women starting singing a celebratory song which is generally reserved for weddings and other similarly important celebrations.  While at this small safe house for children living in the area, one of the women proudly showed us the two rooms of their hut- a modest kitchen and a living room.  The people were genuinely excited to meet us and to share their lives with us which was humbling. 

Secondly, the children at another children’s care center we visited sang songs to us to express their gratitude for the blankets, shoes, and food we delivered to them.  The woman who ran the center continually gave us all hugs and thanked us for helping out her community.  All the women and the children present were overwhelmingly grateful. 

Lastly, at the final location we visited, the people thanked us for everything repeatedly.  This was not a “thank you” out of courtesy, but a very genuine expression of thanks.  We did not give them very much- a pair of shoes that may or may not have fit someone in their family and one food or baking item.  They must know that coming for the United States we should be able to hand them so much more, but no hint of bitterness coated their gratitude.      

It is hard to explain how this experience made me feel because it was such a mixture of emotions- I was saddened and humbled, I felt guilty and at the same time there was a sense of hope.  It is fair to say that this experience will be forever engrained in my memory- both the suffering and the smiles.

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