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Asal, the little angel of unmatched generosity


I am a Kenyan. I now live in Sudan. And I am learning generosity. Generosity at a level greater than what I thought I knew. Asal* is a little girl whose eyes shine brighter than the stars, this in spite of the fact that her clothes, (even when washed - rarely with soap, my imagination tells me - because they) are always several shades darker, and are tattered. Her hair is unruly, little brown ringlets, and she is quite light, though the woman she calls her mother is as dark as dark skinned women can be. Her ‘mother’ drinks, but if the story I am told is true, she found this little girl in a carton outside her ramshackle-stick-and-old-cloth-5ft-by-5ft-space that they now both call home. Some people say Asal is of ‘Arab descent' – I don’t know. When I get home from my daily business in town or wherever else I have been, whether I walk or not I notice her, and if she sees the car that often drops me home, she runs after it all the way, calling my name. I get out of the car and lift her up as high as I can, tickling her, and her screaming and laughing and helpless with joy, greeting me and asking how my day has been with a voice as angelic as a child's voice can be. She reports to the house I stay through the back door almost every morning at nine. And I live in privilege. 'Where is Wanjiru?', she will ask, and my housemates will call me. 'Daira Fatur. Ana Jaana'. ‘I've come to ask for breakfast. I am hungry,’ she tells me, and sometimes she brings along her 9year old neighbour, who has a younger brother that he always carries on his back, and they will sit on the steps - their seat of choice - as I serve them bread, broadbeans and sometimes lentils, and tea. They prefer it black. Or sometimes I give them rice and milk. And they know the drill. Their hands and faces thoroughly cleaned. And then only can they sit. And eat. A week ago, this little sweet child made me cry. At around four pm, and I am unwell, I go to the kitchen to look for food. I serve myself some meat and baked beans and some bread, and they hear me. I am advised to eat something else, because I am unwell and the food is a bit too oily. I offer them my plate. Three very hungry children. My rule to them is that they ALWAYS must wash their hands, so they step in the next room to do that. They sit. The food was little, but as my friend Kamene, a young woman that I stay with is passing, the little girl, with sunshine on her eyes calls out, 'Fadhal!!! Welcome. Please come and eat with us!'. My heart is so touched at such simplicity and generosity. They do not give because they have ENOUGH!!! I thought my mother was a joker - she insists that we MUST give, whether we have or not - but I have seen it even in this little poor child, who is richer than most of us can ever hope to be, because she gives. Even when she has nothing - yet she gives that nothing. She gives!! A challenge for all of us. We give friendship and all else that we have been endowed with because it is convenient for us. What she had was not enough, but she knows that Kamene could be hungry. Her giving is based on the other's need, rather than what is convenient for her. What a lesson!!! Bless my mother for knowing these things. And God bless this little child for reminding me the things my mother taught me!

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