I recently became completely overwhelmed with happiness and this is why.
I traveled to Los Angeles a few weekends ago to be a bridesmaid in one of my dear friend’s wedding. Being an artist, my friend had prepared elaborate plans for the wedding including place settings that consisted of a test-tube, held up by a wooden stand which was individually hand-carved by the groom. The test-tubes were filled with tiny clear stones, water, a flower, and a hanging silver pendant with the guest’s name on one side and a quote on the other. This is just to give an idea of how elaborate, creative, and thought-out each detail of my friend’s beautiful wedding was.
When I arrived with another bridesmaid on Thursday evening, we were greeted by the bride-to-be with our first task at hand: assembling the wedding favors. The bride-to-be showed us the different materials we would be using to assemble the favors. Then she told me that she had a surprise for me because the favors had something to do with me. She said: “Remember how I had asked you if the women with OSI could make something that we could give away as favors and you said that it was a great idea, but it would be too complicated. Well, we thought of something else.” I waited, knowing that my extremely talented and creative friend had come up with an exciting alternative.
She continued: “We decided that instead of favors for the guests, we would like to make a donation to OSI.” I gasped. I had not expected this one bit. She had not breathed a word of this to me before. I couldn’t believe that that was what she and her husband-to-be had decided to do. I felt overwhelmed. I think I had a huge smile, my face lit up, but this all felt so unreal. All I could say was “thank you, thank you, thank you,” over and over again. And “you don’t know what a difference this will make to the women.”I felt overwhelmed that my friend and her husband-to-be had decided that the way they would like to start this journey together, was not by putting money aside for future family investments. Instead, they wanted to give money to women in Madagascar. I had goosebumps. My friend and her now husband are like Paul and me- we make ends meet, but we don’t have much extra money at this point in our lives. So to think that they were deciding to give us a donation, instead of keeping the money for themselves, was just overwhelming. It was an act of pure generosity and caring. I did not even know at that point how much they would be donating. But once I found out, I was floored yet again. Their donation enabled us to give a second cycle of loans to all the women in our second site, Fort Dauphin, who had repaid their first set of loans.
Now going back to the favors. My friend had bought and assembled small boxes. We were to fill them with golden crepe paper and then place two pieces of chocolate inside. One of the chocolates had a colorful artistic pattern on it, and the other had a map of Africa in a bright color. These were gorgeous stylish chocolates. Inside the box, we also placed a small note to the guests that read:
“As we begin our lives together, we think of those less fortunate. A donation has been made to opportunitysolutions.org in each guest’s name that will provide small-scale loans to women entrepreneurs in Madagascar, Africa.”
Our job was then to tie the boxes closed with a piece of raffia (ironically, raffia is made in Madagascar) and twigs to give the boxes this very natural look. The end product was these beautiful looking favor filled with a message of generosity and compassion.The whole spirit of the wedding consisted in the couple giving thanks, particularly to their parents. This gift of theirs to OSI, this generous donation, was just so symbolic to me of how grateful the couple felt for the blessings they had received in their life and their desire to give back to others. I am sure I was not the only one who left the weekend feeling totally overwhelmed with happiness because of this beautiful and generous couple.
To my friends: “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”