Each year, Christmas arrives at the hope centers with special excitement, as Christmas presents from sponsors and Hope Center games and celebrations mark the occasion of Christ's birth. At Kogoya Hope Center, a special donation of clothes allowed for a shopping spree, each child being given ten minutes to sort through bales of clothing and pick out their own new item and put on a new pair of shoes. The facilitators hosted a show, serving up Sobo (a drink much like Tang!) and Kamba (a puffed corn snack) with skits, songs, and games. Thuchila Hope Center presented its children with sparkling new school uniforms and warm blankets for the winter weather which is but a few months away (and contrary to popular belief of Africa, is actually quite cold!) We rounded out the day with a classic Malawian Christmas meal of chicken with rice and a massive dance party, starring a full DJ set and a popular Malawian gospel singer who is a friend to Miqlat. Both centers also gave gifts of extra food to supply our children's families with lightness and freedom from worry during the holidays.
Who is Greater?
A folktale by Ephraim Nambazo (secondary school student from Kogoya Hope Center)
Tamus the Hippo and Rabi the rabbit were great friends. Many animals used to wonder how this friendship began. It was a strange friendship because Tamus was so huge whereas Rabi was so small. Rabi looked even smaller beside Tamus.
Some animals would gossip about Tamus and Rabi.
"There go Tamus and his friend Rabi! I wonder if there is anyone bigger than Tamus or anyone smaller than Rabi."
"That means you haven't seen anything yet. Haven't you seen Phanto the elephant?"
"No! Where does he live?"
"In the thick forest below that high mountain. The elephant is bigger than a hill. His feet are bigger than a drum. His ears look like a blanket."
"Really? But is there anyone small than the hare?"
"Oh, yes! Rate the rat is smaller than Rabi."
Although, Tamus and Rabi were such great friends, each one thought he was better and greater than the other. But they kept these thoughts to themselves.
One day, Hare could no longer keep this idea to himself. As they were going to inspect crops, he said to Tamus, "Friend, which one of us is greater?" Tamus was surprised, because it was obvious to him that he was greater. Nevertheless, he said, "I am greater than you because I am big and strong. Many people fear me!" "No," said Hare, "I am greater because I am clever and I am faster than anybody."
The quarrel went on and almost turned into a fight. Many animals gathered to see what was happening.
The grasshopper was among the onlookers. He stepped in between the two friends and said, "Please, chonde, don't fight. Go to our great chief, Leo the Lion. He will settle this dispute."
So Tamus and Rabi went to Chief Leo. When he heard the purpose of their visit, he told them to leave and see Willie the Owl.
"He lives in that huge tree on the other side of the big river. It is a long way from here," said Chief Leo.
"But... but... how do we get there?" asked Rabi.
"Well," said Chief Leo laughing, "Since both of you think you are greater, you think of a way to get there."
When the two friends got to the river, Hare said, "How do we get across the river? There is no bridge and I can't swim."
"I will carry you on my back," said Hippo.
It took them twenty minutes to cross the river. When they finally got to the other side, Hippo was tired and hungry. So Hare offered to look for some food. After they had eaten, they started off again for Willie's tree.
At last they reached the huge tree. They looked up in the tree and saw Willie the Owl sitting in a hammock. His eyes were closed.
"What can I do for you, Rabi and Tamus?" he asked without opening his eyes.
The two friends looked at each other in surprise.
"We have come to you, wise one, to help us settle our dispute. Who is greater, Tamus or me?" asked Rabi.
"How did the two of you cross the big river?" Willie asked."
"I carried Rabi on my back since he cannot swim," said Tamus.
"I see," said Willie. "It is a long way to this place. You must have been hungry. Who got the food you ate?" Willie asked again.
"I did, since Tamus was very tired," said Rabi.
"There is your answer, then," said Willie. "Each one of your is great and important in his own way."
The two friends went away very happy.