20 Feb A Christmas story…
Once upon a time I was walking through a busy underpass in Kowloon and saw a young mainland Chinese girl begging with her baby.
This was not at all uncommon. Walking down the streets in Hong Kong, you will occasionally come across physically disfigured people sitting on street corners, begging. But there was something about this girl – too young, too vulnerable, too lost – that compelled me to do more than throw a few coins in a cup.
I stocked up at McDonalds and walked back handing her the bag of food which she accepted shyly. Yet the small McDonalds meal was so inadequate to the situation that I called Mothers’ Choice, an organisation that takes care of young pregnant girls. I explained the situation to the operator and put the phone to the girl’s ear. But she didn’t respond, doing nothing but shoot me a nervous glance, too ashamed to look at me as I held the phone, saying nothing at all.
I tried to engage her, but she responded with nothing but silence, and all I could do was walk away, the experience becoming simply the latest of many frustrating experiences of being in a place to help, yet being completely unable to. It was ALWAYS something.
I spoke the wrong language.
I wasn’t a medical professional.
I didn’t have the necessary things.
I didn’t have a big enough house.
Etc., etc., etc. An endless pile of etceteras that drove me mad.
These – seemingly endless rejections of my aid – created a never-ending chain of musings in my head, demanding to know just how I was planning to make a difference in the world with the skill of…..an eye for colour?
I mean, when people need food and shelter, how is an eye for colour and pattern going to help?
Two months later on, it’s Christmas day, and I walked on an overpass in a different part of town and saw the same girl. I ran over with more food and was met with….. a beaming smile of recognition! Maybe today was the day?
But again, I could do little with my limited Mandarin, taking away nothing but the warmth her smile brought to my heart, making my Christmas day.
Yet I know that my stopping and noticing her had made an impact, that we both reaped the rewards from that exchange, that simple act of being there together, sharing a space in the company of a friend, and we both knew that we knew it.
So how is a talent for colour and design going to help the world?
Know that you can make a difference in the smallest of ways by being mindful of those around us. Emi & Eve aim to show with our jewellery that negative experiences can yet be turned into opportunities for beautiful outcomes.
And the girl? Well, for now, here is my drawing of us, my gift of providence and hope to you sweetie!
by Cassandra Postema