When I was small my grandmother told me that sometimes people give with the wrong reasons. “When you give to get something back,” she declared in her Samoan accent, “it’s like keeping a journal. That’s not giving, that’s trading.
You eagerly give your soul away when you give like that. I give you two so you give me two. I give you money, so now you give me something in return.” She pushed the white hair out of her eyes with the back of her smooth hands, shaking her head back and forth.
“Giving is supposed to be from here,” she said, pointing to her heart. “When you give from your heart, it’s not so you expect to get anything back. There is no owing. You just give when your heart says to give. When you give like this, it fills you up with joy and completeness. Your heart can never run out of love. The more you truly give, the fuller you will be.” Then she pulled me closer to her and gave me a stern but loving look, “You remember this, my Pele, to give from your heart. When you do this, there are no strangers but friends. Also remember when other people give to you, be sure to always thank them.”
My grandmother’s lesson on giving, reminded me of a story I just read about a little boy who had cancer. Every time he was feeling discouraged or particularly sick, a package would arrive for him containing some little toy or book to cheer him up, with a note saying the present was from Pete’s Magic Dragon. No one knew who it was, of course.
Eventually the boy died and his parents thought Pete’s Magic Dragon finally would come forth and reveal him or herself. But that never happened.
After hearing this story, I wanted to become my very own Pete’s Magic Dragon whenever I could and I am proud to say I have had many occasions to do so.
One occasion not so very long ago, was one of those times when I craved for ice-cream on a warm evening-the kind where it gets so hot that you literally pull your parents down to the ice-cream shop.
When we finally found ourselves there on this particularly muggy night, it was an ice-cream zoo. There were people standing in a line that ran out the door, people standing around the front eating ice cream cones and people wandering down the street, ice cream in hand. After waiting patiently for what seemed like forever, I finally got my double scoop of chocolate.
As I turned to leave, I came across a small boy, a child vendor, standing in the doorway with a box of goods to sell and his big, watery eyes told me he was also hungry for ice cream. I looked at my double scoop of deliciousness still neatly packed into a cone, handed it to him, and walked away. Yes, my heart was full, but my stomach was not. I did feel good though, that I made someone smile.
A few weeks ago we encountered another of Pete’s Magic Dragon’s giving heart. Our project “Turn a Life Around” for child vendors received donated books from PFL. We sincerely thank Teuila Eteuati from P.F.L. for making the time to actually help support this reading programme with reading books for our children vendors. You see, our programme has grown to about twenty plus kids, but the random kindness from the public does not end there.
Last month my family had a reunion,” The Pani Reunion” at Samoa Tradition Resort at Ululoloa owned by the Su’a family, which by the way is a great place to have reunions and family gatherings.
My family from abroad and locally, donated money, sent boxes of supplies so I can continue to teach, buy uniforms, bags, notebooks and give some money for their lunch and bus fares so our child vendors can pursue their dreams.
My life is surrounded by many of Pete’s Magic Dragons and these beautiful souls have never expected anything back in return when they do give. Like my grandma always says, remember to always say thank you when people give.
I heard once that giving is twice blessed. It blesses the one who gives it and the person who receives it.
I believe this to be true. One of our child vendors attending our programme, let’s call her Lua, is now going to school with the confidence to read and speak up. She came in 9th in Year 6 which was a huge accomplishment for her. She was one of those who started out very shy.
She didn’t know her alphabet and now she has moved up a level with her reading. Her younger sister who is also a child vendor, placed 13th in Year 3. Since the beginning, these girls have come every week to learn. Their grandmother came over the other day to thank me and my team for helping her grandbabies do well in school.
She now has high hopes that her children will be the first to graduate from school and probably break the cycle of child vending. This made me feel extra excited because helping people has that special warmth placed in our hearts.
Grandmother is always right-giving fills up your soul. So how about you, are you ready to give your time to help someone in need, even if it just means sharing a smile every day or to help an elderly person to cross the street.
Tutor a classmate struggling with her schoolwork? Maybe visit the Samoa Victim Support Group and take time to read to the kids there? Or become a Pete’s Magic Dragon to some other sick kid at the hospital. A special gift will help some of those kids forget their pain. I was always told if you are blessed, don’t forget those who are not.
It feels good to put a smile on other people’s faces, especially those who have very little.