Volume 17 Number 1
What Has Restored Your Faith in Human Nature?
01 February 2004

My heart is warmed at the recollection of my crippled hostess ambling off towards town because she had learned that I liked pepper with my potatoes and she had none.

On a visit to Kenya I was given everything by people who had nothing.

Many wonderful acts of kindness enriched my stay in East Africa. The memory of 30 locals, knee deep in mud, heaving my car back onto the road always brings a smile of gratitude to my face. My heart is warmed at the recollection of my crippled hostess ambling off towards town because she had learned that I liked pepper with my potatoes and she had none. One woman even halved her budget by feeding me one of her two chickens-eggs were her only source of income.

But one moment has endured above all others. While participating in a reconciliation programme, my sister and I met an elderly woman. As the victim of a heinous crime perpetrated by a white man, she had hated the mzungu (whites) for 40 years. We were the first white people to have entered the village during that time. My sister offered an apology for the actions of another member of our race. The woman apologized for her bitterness and they embraced as sisters.

Witnessing such a moment has gifted me the clarity to appreciate many more acts of unselfishness than previously.

These people have shown me that giving is the best way to receive. Now it's my turn.
John Leggat, London

I had had a very successful shopping expedition in West Croydon and happily travelled home with three bags on the train. When I arrived at my house I realized to my horror that I only had two bags with me. The third, with a lovely new jumper inside plus the receipt, was missing. I was devastated. My day was ruined as I was convinced that I would never see my jumper again, particularly as Christmas was not far away.

However my friend who was with me kept insisting that I call the lost property in the station terminus. After a few days I reluctantly phoned the office, having no hope at all that they would be any help. To my astonishment and joy they said, 'You are in luck! Your bag is here.' Someone had turned it in.
Veronica Craig, London

Locally there has been a spate of vandalism by youngsters. They have smashed bus-stop shelters and phone boxes. They even set light to the tops of buses, which cost thousands of pounds and, nearly, lives.

Recently I and other senior citizens were invited to attend our local primary school's Christmas show rehearsal. The children actually wrote and sent the invitation by hand. It was a grand effort by pupils and teachers alike, and we were served mince pies and tea afterwards by the senior ones, who also asked us what we liked best in the show. They even lined up to send us on our way, making us feel like royalty.

That experience helped me get right and wrong in perspective, and has restored my faith in young human nature, remembering we were there once, warts and all. I see only great hope of better things from our younger generation in Great Britain, including where I live.
Bob Bedwell, London

Next issue:
What is the biggest mistake you've ever made?
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For A Change is an interactive magazine for building trust across the world's divides. It is published by Initiatives of Change - International