Looking for a Better World

Part 8/8

The Gift

As for the women, they learnt how to make soaps and earrings. We met them in a freshly-painted house where they store their production before selling it on the campus, thanks to students who decided to help them.

I sit on the floor, like them, and suddenly before me, I have several boxes with rainbow-colored earrings. I plunge into the boxes with cheerfulness, and I pick up four models–nice gifts for my girlfriends. They seem happy with my selection. But then, an older woman says, “Take one more pair for yourself.” She adds, “We offer it to you.”

I protest. I say I will take another pair, but I want to pay for it. They need the money. My protest creates a moment of chaos and then they all agree to insist, “Choose the color that you like the most.”

Touched by the incredible generosity of these women whose lives are so hard, I dive my nose once again into the boxes, extracting an elegant blue one. After that, they are satisfied. So am I and we can start the conversation.

First, I answer some questions about myself, my husband, my family, and then I get to ask them questions about their experience and their living conditions.

When I get back into the car–after pressing their hands in mine, after trying to say that way “thank you” and “I admire your courage”–my legs were shaking. Because it is rare to see projects that work, rare to meet people who overcome extreme poverty, rare to echo good news.

At that time, I thought of Amma, who herself comes from an extremely modest family. I think this is why she understands villagers in need. Besides, her story strikes me once more: how extraordinary her life is, how fantastic to now conceive and enact so many positive social changes.

I smiled as I remembered her words on compassion and her way to inspire compassion in action. In our hectic age, it clearly is daring. And as we drove through the countryside, the rocking movement lulled me into drowsiness. Happy me to enjoy such an intense journey, happy me to have witnessed how the world can also change for the better, be uplifted, and regain harmony.

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