In Tanzania, Christmas is more about celebrating the birth of Jesus and less about exchanging gifts or Santa Claus. This year was no different. We attended church, sang hymns, and enjoyed a special holiday meal together. What was different was when a couple of donors asked me if they could give the girls a gift this year. Something special, something new they could learn from or perhaps develop a new healthy behavior. I’m always encouraging the girls to exercise and to be more independent, then it dawned on me…soccer balls and bicycles! We go through soccer balls like crazy here because of the rough terrain but the girls had never been on a bicycle. Here, bicycles are primarily used for transportation – hauling firewood or big sacks of grain. They provide a sense of independence and responsibility. Using the funds given by the two donors, I purchased new soccer balls and 4 bicycles.
For some, learning to ride a bike was a breeze: they just got on and pedaled away. For others, it proved that conquering two wheels was something slightly trickier to master. I’m sure we all have some memorable accounts of that first ride, without training wheels. I know, I do!
The girls supported and cheered each other on, even one of their matrons hopped on for a quick ride. And just as kids do, they giggled at the sight. I have to be honest; it was an emotional moment for me – seeing the girls helping each other up and encouraging each other to get back on the bike.
Later that day, they were still beaming with pride and joy. We talked about what they accomplished and how they overcame their fear of trying something new.
This was a Christmas to remember – the girls learned how to ride independently while supporting each other, how it takes courage to try something new, and the feeling of joy when you finally succeed. It was a wonderful way to spend time together over the holiday.