by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
For many, Cinderella’s story was a beloved part of a childhood legacy – a universal tale of rescue and romance. Here’s a version of it that you can share with your family. It’s part of current events and just a little curious. This ‘once upon a time’ starts with eight year old Editha growing up in Tanzania, East Africa.
When Editha’s mother died, the girl was absorbed into another family after her father remarried. The all too familiar scenario played out. Editha suffered abuse from her stepmother. Household chores replaced school room assignments. A neighbor took notice and stepped in. With the assistance of the village elders and permission from Editha’s father, she gained custody of the little girl.
Unlike the fairy godmother of our childhood tale, the neighbor had no magical powers to supply a happy ending – one that would give Editha a chance to attend school. That’s where two young girls in a Swiss school come in. They organized a read-a-thon for the dozen or so in their class to raise money. At a party the teachers gave to celebrate, word got out about Livia and Vera’s success, and a philanthropic organization added a thousand dollars to their funds.
The girls’ mothers contacted an international mission agency working in Tanzania to find a recipient for the money raised. With a recommendation from an American woman living in New York City who raises funds to supply boarding school scholarships for worthy Tanzanian youngsters, Editha was chosen. She is currently enrolled in school and her happy ending is just beginning.
Editha is a real youngster. So are Livia and Vera. Separated by thousands of miles and several languages, they were, nonetheless, brought together by God’s cords of love. We cannot always know what God will fashion when we start out to make a difference like this one. We can assure our kids, though, that any time we obey God’s promptings, he will supply the happy ending.
Here’s a final suggestion: If you have school aged children, gather around a world map to share this story. Let someone find Tanzania in East Africa and point to it. Let another find Switzerland and place their finger there and a third person point out New York City. Then let the person pointing to Switzerland move their finger toward New York City and together the two move towards Tanzania.
End with a few quiet moments inviting your kids to listen to what God may be saying to them. What promptings to make a difference does he impress upon them? Let those who wish share from this listening time, make note of anything you want to remember, and then let someone close with a prayer of thanksgiving. Don’t forget to thank God for his intervention in Editha’ life and for those young girls he used to make it possible.