Oreo Cookies

I procured the Oreos for Passang and was rewarded with her bright smile. I cherished her smiles like precious jewels because they didn’t come that often and represented, to me, a resilient healing heart.

The whole class liked Oreo cookies, but Passang, my one nine year old student, loved them.

I was sweating in the extreme heat and humidity, as I stood in the hut where Andy and I slept. I gathered my rupees, small water bottle, hand sanitizer, chapstick and a couple paper towel sheets into my small over the shoulder purse, in preparation for the expedition into town I was about to begin, when she came running towards me.

“Mam!” She called. “Will you get me Oreos?” She thrust a 20 rupee note at me. I was surprised because the children didn’t usually have their own money but I didn’t over think it and said, “Sure,” and stuffed her rupees into my bag. Passang ran off as the four kids who were going with us to town hurried towards us around the bend of the mango orchard.

Three days a week, Alana and I had organized a schedule to accompany four kids at a time on the adventure going to town entailed. The children loved the experience of riding jeeps and tuk tuks through the villages on the way to town and then walking with their teachers up and down the streets, looking into all the stores and purchasing items. Alana and I paid for these excursions because we thought it was important for these kids to see something of their world besides their rural orphanage, school and farm. We taught them about money and its uses during our field trip to real stores. Many children who’d already had their day in town with us, begged to go again–but one turn each, for 60 kids, was all we had time and money to do.

I procured the Oreos for Passang and was rewarded with her bright smile. I cherished her smiles like precious jewels because they didn’t come that often and represented, to me, a resilient healing heart. Her parents had died only a month earlier.

Twice more, Passang came to me with rupees asking for Oreos. On the last request I asked, “Passang, where are you getting the rupees?”

“My father gave me all his money before he died.” She explained.

I suddenly grasped what was happening. She was spending her inheritance from her mother and father on Oreo cookies!

I said, “Passang, my dear, I will buy the Oreos from now on. You must keep all the money your father gave you in a special safe place and not use it until you are grown up. Will you do this?” She nodded yes, I returned her rupees to her and carried on into town.

It is hard to comprehend the losses these children absorbed and I know our presence in their lives helped them move forward in a positive way.

What was new in my understanding was just how deeply their lives and the love and trust bestowed onto us, saved me from getting lost in my own life’s tragedy.

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