After many months of toiling over the purpose of hARTfelt, and many failed attempts at selling our badges and products; in a single moment my view of hARTfelt has changed. I am happy to report that I no longer feel the pressure of doing something ‘big’ with this project, so allow me the space to elaborate.
For a while now, myself (Dee here) and Bianca have grown despondent in our attempt to spread love, as badge sales, were little to none…our lives inundated with work. Our hearts grew faint with fear. I was grappling with the notion of wanting to help people experience love, but not knowing how, until about a month ago.
At random one day a lady, named Claudette, email me inquiring about my face paint service, she was to do a charity drive at Elundini, a school of miracle workers. I eventually called her back and she explaind that she was doing this project and needed face painters to entertain the children, not knowing this woman from a bar of soap I decided to do it for free. There was something about her that made me realize that this was a valuable project. Only later I learned the value of her story.
Claudette’s story:Through the loss of her little Boy Aidan from Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). She and her husband was inspired to get involved in her local community to assist kids with special needs. She wanted to help where she could to offer them “quality” of life just as her little angel had. AidanInspires was created to reach out and offer the children love and support. “Unconditional love” and “acceptance” into society which is what these kids with special needs desire most. AidanInspires committed themselves to helping Elundini with day-day requirements. They gather a group of supporters from various organisations that open their hearts and stand together with meeting the basic needs of the centre.
After a month of emails, Saturday 24 March 2012 arrived. Still not knowing much about the project I roped my dad and one of the girls at my church Leandra in to tag along. Little did my heart know it would change a life forever and be changed for ever.
We all arrived and met at the Caltex, and was escorted into Du Noon by Metro Police. Once we arrived at Elundini, did the reality of life dawn upon me. It took me a few seconds to compose myself and tackle the task at hand. The realization of the life these kids live on a daily basis, made my life seem like a walk in the park. Not only did they face disability, they faced poverty daily. The mere fact that woman like Indy Kawana and her staff could teach these children in such dire conditions (and do it with a smile) made me realize that life is not about what I have but what I have to give. Teaching is all they have, and give it with all they can. No money or lack thereof could pay for the amount of love these children experience through the ladies at Elundini. Face painting is what I had to offer in that situation and I was going to do just that.
The severity of the situation soon became much lighter, once greeted by the friendly faces of the kids. My heart became overwhelmed at moments throughout the day, I had to walk away sometimes to just get a hold of myself. Each child was so unique in their own right, and beautiful, even with disability (which the world secretly shunts). If ever God reminded me that we are fearfully and WONDERFULLY made, it was that day. Every beautiful face will eternally be engraved into my memory, names might fail me, but those images are etched into my heart forever. What a privilege to show love in what I thought an insignificant way. Every brush stroke on their faces, every colour painted on their skin, made a difference…if only for one day. They were carefree-children for a day and that is what mattered most.
I remember meeting a little boy who was partially blind, he first caught my eye amidst the chaos of chattering kids when he walked up to me and started outlining the wording on my t-shirt with his finger, capturing every detail of this lady in pink. He became so excited about the sensation of having someone paint his face…he kept coming back for more. Even though he could not speak, I felt every ounce of his excitement through his screams and taps on my arm. He eventually realized that his friends had glitter on their faces and also wanted some, to which he endlessly reminded me until it got to his turn again.In fact he never left my side until such time arrived. Even after then he just kept sitting there smiling as all the other children had their chance. There was also Shaun (who became my personal translator), he was an 11 year old boy who spoke Afrikaans, English and isiXhosa… so the language barrier was breached through helpful Shaun. He was such a joy to just have around and such a task master and disciplinarian.
I fondly remember the face of a the little down syndrome boy that kept running to me at random points throughout the day smiling and hugging my legs tightly. His face set my heart alight each time he did that.
There was one girl in particular that broke my heart… she was physically not able to speak or walk or do anything for herself. I decided to paint a flower on her hand and she became so ecstatic about her glittered flower, that she kept showing everyone who passed by. I knew she was happy…and that made me happy.
After a day of fun in the sun, the Easter bunny’s visit and a wonderful word by Andrew… I was left behind with these words resonating in my soul:
Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world – James 1:27
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh? – Isaiah 58 :7
Regardless of how ‘great’ I am at being a Christian or human…or being ‘powerful’ in ministry…if I have not the basic requirement to love… I have nothing. you don’t need to go out there and do ‘big’ things…just be relevant and consistent in the small bits… God does the rest. We tend to forget that LOVE is the one thing we all need… the universal language in a world filled with pain and injustice. LOVE conquers all…it breaks through areas of our souls that nothing else can. If LOVE saved me from destruction, it surely can change one life at a time. I finally get this LOVE thing, well not fully yet, but what I get is… I am called to LOVE with all I have to give.
Once again thank you to Claudette and her team for trusting me enough to make this experience a reality.