A Gift of Love by Shiya Mangel
I've never in my life witnessed such pure joy as I did today and it opened my heart and filled me with a love and happiness that is rarely, if ever, experienced. We spent the morning with the kids in the day care center at the Cambodian Children's Fund Community Center. We played, had a pizza party and shared millions of smiles, hugs, kisses and giggles. The highlight of the day was bringing out large boxes filled with new clothes and shoes for each child. It was complete and utter mayhem as we sorted through the clothes and tried to pair each outfit with the child it was bought for. Twenty some women undressing and redressing more than 60 children under the hot sun in sticky humid air was a scene like no other.
I was hot and sweaty and a bit frustrated by all the craziness and lack of organization. Then I helped a little girl into her new dress and then another one into her new shoes and suddenly there was nothing in the air that mattered except the complete delight in the kids faces. Their entire demeanor changed once they were in their new clothes. They stood up a little taller, wanted to pose for photos and compared and showed off their new outfits. They had a whole new sense of pride and self-confidence. As they gathered in a group and sang for us I was given a gift too, their smiles and pride will always be in my heart. Today was like Christmas and your birthday and every other holiday rolled into one!
Watching the excitement of the kids was incredibly heart warming. It displayed hopefulness that I have been lucky enough to encounter countless times in the past few days at CCF. I feel so blessed not only to have witnessed this display of happiness, joy and transformation from something that at home would be an everyday occurrence, but also to have been able to help raise the money that made these new clothes a possibility and a reality for these kids. People told me that this trip would change my life, yet I could never imagine that it would give me the opportunity to experience over 400 little miracles that are each of the most loving, beautiful children I have ever been privilege to spend time with.