Friday, October 15, 2010

Field of dreams- Contribution by Derek Smith

Random acts of kindness usually have the most charming results which brings more joy to the giver than to the receiver. Last week the following chain of events left me with a feel good experience that still makes me smile.
First the back-story:
This year READ is distributing 1 000 blank journals as part of the 2010 Readathon Campaign with the following message;
“This journal is on a Journey – and we would like you to be part of it.
One thousand journals, like this one, are traveling from one person to the next throughout South Africa. Those who find them will add their stories and drawings, and then pass the journal on to someone else until the whole journal is filled.
We want you to use photos, cartoons, drawings, sketches, collage or poems to tell your story. It is all about you, who you are, where you are, what you are thinking, wanting or doing. Pen or pencil, crayon or paint. Just write something about yourself and what you do.”
These journals should, when full, be handed in at a CNA store. The best entries will be judged and published as part of a journal reflecting South African life in 2010. The idea behind this campaign is to recognize the value of writing in functional literacy. 
The other part of the story was me nagging the love of my life to pose for a photograph, something she hates with a passion;
Girl’s daughter bought her an exquisite antique hand-embroidered Bedouin dress at the Jaffa Flea Market in Tel Aviv many moons ago. For years it’s hung in the cupboard hardly ever being worn. I bought a nifty little photo-sampler Lomography camera a while ago which really relies on the alchemy of photography with four little plastic lenses firing in quick succession on 35mm film. I pleaded for days on end until Her Royal Highness sighed, flounced off, putting on the dress so that I could take some photographs in front of a mosaic in our garden. I thought the contrasting colours will work well in lomo.
Afterward this momentous photo-shoot Girl said she might as well get rid of the dress as she will never wear it again. I suggested that we either have cushion covers made of the embroidered pieces or donate it to “Bounty Hunters Charity Shop” close to our home.  But that would have been a sad waste as the dress would be special to someone that could appreciate it for what it is - a coat of many colours.     
I was quite happy with the photos and posted two on my Flickr site which then lead to the following chain of events;  
On 7 September the first person posting a comment remarked;
“Oh my gosh, I SO BADLY want that outfit. I love the business of the Bedouin against the works here!”
When I read this I knew that karma was at play and that the dress has found a new home. I phoned Girl and asked her if I could offer it as a surprise gift which she was quite happy to do.
On 8 September I replied;

“Surprise, surprise……! You can have it. My partner got this many years ago as a gift when her daughter went to Israel and she’s actually never wore it. We don’t know what to do with it and was thinking of getting someone to make cushion covers for us, using the dress.
Let me have your address and I’ll send it to you.”
Shortly thereafter I received an answer;

Oh my goodness....I literally screamed when I read your mail. You have NO idea, how much this means to me. I too am a great believer that things happen as they should.”

I obtained the address. This was in Vanderbijlpark,  which is close to Jozi and I couriered it the next day.  I slipped one of “Journals on a Journey” in which I wrote an entry about the garment into the package. The parcel was delivered the same afternoon.
I then received the following e-mail:
I already have my dress on. One of the girls in my office is currently in tears...she is so touched by the story. The book, the writing in it, the concept... I cannot stop smiling. I cannot stop thinking about how I am going to pass the book on and make someone else as happy as you have made me. I cannot stop thanking you...
And the dress was made for me in every sense of the word.
 THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK you a million times over!
 PS  I was looking for a way to end my 52 week project and you gave it to me...
 Love and blessings and peace to you both!!!!!!!!!!!
I cannot say thank you enough.
When the book comes back you will see all the symbolism that has come with the dress for me...the positive energy and blessing through both your kindnesses”
I didn’t know what this 52-week project was all about until I saw the following photographs on Flickr with their comments:

“Earlier this week I saw a photo of a Bedouin Dress on Flickr. What followed after I commented on the pic and the dress is nothing short of awesome.
Not long after the comment I got an email. To cut a  long story short a day later I got the dress and an added bonus -  a journal called, “Journal on a Journey” ...there are a 1000 copies...of which I have one in my hands...each person write their thoughts, wishes etc., and then pass it on to the next person to add their photos, drawings...etc....

I think this is such an inspiring idea and I'm ever so thankful for being involved

“My 52 weeks of self-portraits is ended by random strangers who did a small deed that to me meant a massive amount.  I feel blessed and lucky to have received such a wonderful surprise. I got this beautiful beyond words Bedouin dress in a package
It feels like I have been chosen to be part of something...along with the beyond beautiful Bedouin dress there was a "Journal on a Journey" inside the box. When I opened and read it my heart skipped a few beats and i still have not been able to stop smiling. Not only because the dress is amazing, but because i have been touched by kindness.
So I end my 52 weeks project on a complete high. I wanted to portray the feeling of freedom and lightness that i am experiencing...and I cannot wait to send my Journal on its journey.”
And so the circle of life continues. Karma at play.
I know there some repetition in the comments but I’m leaving it as is otherwise otherwise the spontaneity will be lost in translation
I love it when a plan comes together and I’m sure this dress will be worn with joy and that its history will be told many times over. I also hope that the journal will complete its journey and that I’ll have the privilege of seeing it again.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

World teacher's day

Dear teacher

Today is your day. It is not everyday that we show appreciation for our teachers. You are not only educators, you are caretakers, parents, providers, protectors and so much more. You play such a huge role in the grooming of our children as well as the future of our country. We salute you and the work you do.

We salute you for caring for our nation!
Each day the fate of 12 000 000 young people is put in your hands. You deserve great respect!