Friday, December 4, 2015
“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” ― Mark Twain
We got a package yesterday, and usually, we just deal with the customs guy here in Bunda who doesn’t even open it until we are there with him. However, because of the new president, every civil servant is jittery and afraid they may lose their job. So, yesterday, Shaban had to drive to Musoma to deal with the customs people there. The package contained mostly over-the-counter pain medication: ibuprofen, Tylenol, Excedrin, an ankle brace for John’s weak ankle, and our Christmas gift for Shaban. The customs guys were sure we were smuggling heroin or something since they had never heard of the medication. It was getting a little tense until Shaban suggested they bring in the Chief of Customs for the Mara Region. He came in, looked at the stuff, looked at the watch he was wearing--which was one I had given him, and said, “Pass this package through and anything that comes for these people. They are good people, have been here for years, and shouldn’t have to come to Musoma to get their packages. Send them straight to Bunda.” Then he looked at his watch again, winked so only Shaban could see and walked out. Shaban got the package and brought it straight to us. Karen really needs the ibuprofen for her arthritis, I need the Excedrin for my migraines, and John has a genetically weak ankle that needs a good brace, so we are all better today. The highlight though was when we gave Shaban his Christmas present. As he is Muslim, we didn’t feel the need to wait for Christmas Day to give him his gift. He, like almost every Tanzanian male is a big fan of English football (soccer) and is a huge Arsenal supporter. We found a jersey and shorts just like the ones worn by the players on Amazon.com and had it shipped here. He went nuts. I can’t remember seeing him so excited. He said he would be wearing it tonight when he went with his friends to watch a match on tv. Tanzanian men don’t cry or he would have. He did laugh, smile, and keep holding it to his face to feel it. He even checked the shorts to see if they had the small red stripe on the inside seam—and they did. He couldn’t believe it. Gift giving is not something done here unless a couple is getting married, so this was a big deal for him. We were delighted. I was also happy that a small act of kindness in giving a man a watch that another man had given to me got paid forward (Shaban was also wearing a watch I had given him that someone else had given me). Kindness is always a good thing to give, to do, and to receive. Do an act of kindness today. You will be a better person for it.