A beautiful sunshine smile spread across the face of a seven year old girl in the school yard at Emaromeni Catholic Primary school in Actonville. In her hand she treasured a two rand coin I gave her as a treat to buy a sweet for herself.  She cradled a lovely colourful red apple that I happened to have in my school bag in the other hand.  I invited her to take a bite of her new-found apple.  She smiled shyly, bit gingerly, laughed happily and ran off rather awkwardly as the school bell rang calling the children to a reading period of the day, before school officially began at 08h00.

The day fled by I had to go to Barcelona to sort out a need for a family.   Once more my little friend appeared, limping on her crippled leg.  She has infection in the bone.  A gentle smile emerged and she ran off happily into the tin shack of their home to attend to her baby sister’s needs.

This is the part of the story that will never leave me.  And for you it will probably be the same.  The mother told me her little girl arrived home from school, (she travels a long distance to and fro by taxi each day – leaving at 06h00 and getting home at 16h00) and called out to her mother.  Thinking something was amiss, as the child often suffers an attack of chronic pain in the leg, the mother ran out.  Yet, the child looked fine.  They went inside the house and the child delved deep into her school dress pocket.  She pulled out her R2- whole and entire still after such a long day!  Nothing had been spent.  She offered it to her mother and asked what she needed.  The mother replied, ‘we have no matches’.  The child laughed and said she would go and fetch matches for her mother at a nearby ‘spaza’ or house shop.  The little girl queried, ‘Can I spend the change?’  She was told, ‘The change is all yours!’ And it was just a few cents!  Before flying off to buy the matches, the little one pulled out her apple.  It was still as I left her early in the morning.  She invited her mom to eat the apple.

I could only look at the mother, aghast, as she told me this story.  A tiny child, an innocent child who already knows the Kingdom of God with wisdom I will never have.  Bless her always, dear God.

(This same little girl is on a bursary from a very generous family in America.  They came to hear about Barcelona from our Sr. John Barry’s family who visited her on her 90th birthday.  The Irish family and the American family are good friends.  And so the message spreads.  Thank you Sr. John for your very kind, generous family that also shares so much with underprivileged children and families.  May it all return to them in abundance.)

Sister Margaret