Four of us are attending the sewing training every Wednesday: myself, NuNu, San Aye & Ma Kai Oo. We’ve hired Ma Kai Oos’ mother to cook a meal for us to take with us so that we don’t have to head to a restaurant, saving both time & money. Instead, she packs it in the stackable lunch boxes that we have here, and we unstack them in the hallway of our sewing class. We each get a bowl of rice, and there are three curries to share.
The past few weeks when Ma Kai Oo brings our basket of lunch, I’ve noticed a coffee bag inside. It’s a bulk bag, which might have 30 packets of coffee, but mostly empty. The first week I was curious if she might make coffee in the afternoon; perhaps her mom sent some with lunch? On the third week of her bringing a coffee bag without any of us drinking coffee, I paid more attention and realized it was her notes–all her sewing notes and worksheets, nicely kept inside of a coffee bag as a folder.
So this week when she was over at our house, I offered her a plastic folder for her sewing notes. If she wanted to value them that much, I’d love to support that. She was so excited; much too excited, really, for it being a folder. And her sister, sitting there, as well, asked if I might have an extra she could use at school.
I smiled and gave her one: partially because I had bought them in bulk for the summer program and still have a number left over; and partially because I just love their little A-type selves. Both of these girls are just so neat and clean: they always come perfectly put together, perfectly clean and in perfectly ironed clothes. They both love hand sanitizer. They like folders and all things neat and organized. And all of these are so difficult living in poverty and in mud! But it’s endearing how hard they work. And if folders will make their week? Why, yes, I’ve got two folders to spare!
Later that same evening, Ma Kai Oo had gone to the market and had her bicycle stolen. We were really sad: it’s always hard to know what to do. We can’t simply buy her another one, but there just isn’t justice: as an illegal, she can do nothing, really. Bicycles are some of the more prized possessions in this community, so it’s heartbreaking to see them try to figure out how to make ends meet and find another one. Either way, we gave our consolations with little else we could do.
The next week, Ma Kai Oo was over again. She was trying to ask me something about her bicycle, but I was having trouble understanding. After a bit, I finally got it: When her bicycle was stolen, she had lost her folder. Could she please have another folder?
Again, certainly. I can’t give you back your bicycle, but if this folder will mean so much to you: by all means. If a folder will make your week–for a second time!–after you’ve lost your only form of transportation: by all means.
Sometimes I’m amazed how much it’s the little things: the little gifts, the little glimpses of hope. We can’t solve the big problems. We can’t even begin to acquire legal papers and create jobs and absolve debts and find decent housing; we can’t solve hunger and poverty and abuse. But we can show them that they are seen, even in the small, folder-sized things.