There are moments that touch us, move us beyond words, moments that propel us into action. My time in St. Lucia at OneWorld Schoolhouse Foundation’s Rainforest of Reading awards was filled with such moments, some of which are only being digested now that I am ‘home’. I feel as if doors and windows that I did not even know were there have been opened. While immersed in the culture of the Caribbean, where people harmoniously exist on and incorporate the natural resources around them, all I saw and felt was joy. There was not a single complaint, no sense of lack. There was a oneness. People didn’t need lavish homes, televisions, computers, designer ‘things’. They didn’t need thousands of dollars in the bank…they had the moment. There were no dollar stores, toy stores or even a lot of grocery stores. The connection here was one of hearts and hands working together.
I think Spendosaur will like it here. Many of us brought books to give away, many of us gave away much more. What is easy for us to access in Canada,was a delightful treasure in St. Lucia. One parent even told me that her daughter loved the book we gave her so much that she slept with it under her pillow to sweeten her dreams.
A young boy named Quamy had been ‘following’ me around at the Vieux Fort festival. He had his hand waving in the air when I asked for volunteers to help Spendosaur roar during our presentation. He lingered after his session, came back to visit at lunch and asked if he could play with Spendosaur. Of course the answer was yes. He flew around the grounds holding him high, smiling one of the broadest smiles I have ever seen. He shared him with his friends, always followed by a troupe of admirers for ‘he who held Spendosaur’. At the end of the day, he visited again and asked if I would be selling my toys. I said no, but upon examining Quamy’s face, I knew he didn’t dare ask for what he really wanted.
“You really like Spendosaur, don’t you?”
I paused. Should I give him away? This Spendosaur who had been given to me by a dear friend and who had performed in many shows with me over the years?
“Then you should have him.”
Quamy’s face lit up. He could hardly believe it!
“Thank you miss! Thank you!”
Before he ran off to show his remarkable treasure to his friends, I told him that he would have to brush Spendosaur’s teeth, keep him cool and that sometimes he ate a lot. It was like giving a child away in some respects, but the joy that it brought was immeasurable. I knew I could get another Spendosaur in Canada, but that Quamy would not find one in his home. He would treasure him, and Spendosaur would love his new life with a child and community that would treat him like a special celebrity. This simple act made a difference. What difference? We may not know for years to come, that will be Quamy’s chapter to write.
Quamy appeared again moments later, seeing that I was folding tables and chairs. He and his troupe of friends without even a request, began to help me, all smiles, all heart. My own heart is full of such memories of the Rainforest of Reading, of the spirit of giving that was prevalent there, of the hope that one book, one action can make such a deep difference. Thanks to all, especially Sonya White and Richard Clewes for making all of this possible.