Small Acts of Kindness

Mariana Ossa - Senegal


January 17, 2017

Ever since arriving to my homestay in Dindefelo, I’ve been consistently surprised by the kindness and warmth of my community.  At the beginning of my stay I remember thinking to myself that their kindness was just because they felt obligated to make me, the newcomer, feel welcomed and comfortable. But in reality as time goes on I’ve realized kindness it’s just part of their culture, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with people who’ve made a true and significant impact on my stay here.

Only recently did I realize how people in my community have influenced and shaped my experience through acts of kindness in such a positive way. Around two weeks ago, my friend Isabel and I were in the Garage, waiting for a car to take us back to our villages. It was a hot day in Kedougou City and we had been waiting three hours for the car to get packed and ready to leave. As you can imagine, we were tired of waiting and just wanted to go home. In just that short period of time, I experienced three acts of kindness from members of my community. While I sat waiting, a man sitting next to me noticed my hunger and fatigue and offered to buy me a banana from a nearby fruit stand. I declined, but felt so blessed that this man was willing to spend his own money on a stranger. Later that afternoon, I had to use the restroom. There was a small fee to access the toilet and I didn’t have any money on me so I told the proprietor I would come back later to pay him. However, when I came back out, the man told me someone had already paid for my entrance.

Absolutely packed with people and goods, the cars that go back to the villages aren’t the most comfortable. With no room to move my legs and my heavy backpack on my lap, my body quickly started to ache. Halfway through the trip a man sitting next to me offered to carry my backpack, I smiled and said no thanks, not wanting to cause him discomfort. He offered a second time and I smiled again, insisting it was fine. Upon his third offer, I couldn’t help but accept. The rest of the trip I couldn’t stop thinking how kind he had been. Since that day I think about how an act of kindness, no matter how small, can have such an impressive effect on others. By implementing acts of kindness into our lives we have the potential to change a person’s day or change their perspective on life. My day was completely turned around by the actions of these people. When you are coming from a place of generosity and giving without expecting anything in return, that is so pure and it’s what our world needs today.

Every day I appreciate being surrounded by people that bring such a positive outlook on life and are always willing to lend you a hand. This is just one of the many things that remind me how grateful I am to be here. They may not have much to give at this time in their life, but what makes the act of giving so special is showing that you do the best you can with what you have. I’m inspired to be a better version of myself when I’m surrounded by people of my community. I’m so grateful when I think of how they’ve contributed to my overall adjustment experience and progression in such a positive way

Mariana Ossa