Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The day “Santa Sagie” came to Mariannhill

One of the most amazing things about working on the 2010 projects here in South Africa is the huge community backing for the work being done in disadvantaged communities.

Being a doctor, brother Mahen Iyer from Westville ecclesia is one of those people who knows just about everybody. It’s really handy with the 2010 work, as no matter what we need for the projects, Mahen has a patient, friend or cousin who can help!

One such case is Sagie, a car rebuilder who Mahen knew and who then helped the COP Trust with getting a new vehicle. The car had been rolled in an accident and had body damage, but with the great job Sagie’s team did, we now have an Avanza people mover to use in the work.

But the relationship with Sagie doesn’t stop there. Sagie and his family wanted to help out some of the people in disadvantaged communities. Because of his relationship with the COP Trust through the cars, Sagie asked Mahen to identify a project he was involved in where there were small kids who he could buy Christmas presents for. Mahen told him about Mariannhill and the kids who come to Sunday school and who will be involved in the new centre once it opens. And this was the start of “Santa Sagie”.

On Sunday, December 21st after the meeting at Mariannhill, Sagie, his wife and his daughter arrived with about 25 beautifully wrapped presents. They had shopped at Toys ‘R’ Us and specifically picked gifts for the kids based on their gender and age from a list that Dan and I had put together.

The kids were so excited as each of their names were called out and they went up to receive their gifts…which in some instance were nearly as big as themselves! Then they all just sat there with their gifts in their laps, a bit unsure of whether this beautiful thing was really for them…and if so, what to do about it! Despite our coaxing that they could unwrap them, it took young sister Precious (who will serve well as our new crèche teacher!) to shout out two Zulu words to the kids and it was a flurry of wrapping paper and sticky tape!

The gasps, wide eyes and huge smiles will be remembered by all who were there for a very long time! These were not just cheap, simple gifts – they were lovely, personal and well thought-out expressions of the care this family have for those who are less well off. I doubt whether these kids have ever received something like this in their lives.

The next half an hour was a noisy, joyful time as the kids showed off their gifts to each other, tried them out and enjoyed the party food that Sagie and his family had bought along for the occasion. Even the youth were getting a piece of the action – checking the presents out, having a turn and helping the kids open and explore their toys.

As we left Mariannhill, we saw one of the Sunday school kids running along the road calling out to her friends and holding her present above her head like a trophy she had won in the Olympics! I am sure the gifts will be treasured by these children like we cannot imagine and the simple fact that someone cared will impact them even more.

A few weeks ago, Sagie contacted us again for details of all the school-aged kids out at Mariannhill so he could put together “back to school” packs for them. It is encouraging to see the willingness of people in the communities here to get involved in the 2010 projects that reach out to the disadvantaged communities and show them the love of God.

Leah Egginton, Australia

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