The Bird that Tried

Maybe you have heard the story of the bird who tried to put out a flame.
If you haven’t, then listen as I tell it to you now. The king, Nimrod, had set a huge fire and thrown the Prophet Abraham into the flames to kill him in punishment for his faith. A bird perched on a tree saw the flames and wanted to put out that flame. .It flew to the river and took a few drops of water in its beak and threw them on the flames. Back to the river it went and brought a few more drops, dashing them on the flames, back and forth and then again.
A crow perched on a tree nearby saw the bird flying back and forth with the few drops of water and mocked it saying, “What can a few drops of water do to put out that flame? You are trying to do the impossible.”
The bird replied, “When I die and go before God, He will not ask me if I put out the flame. He will ask me., ‘What did you do?”

There was a period of time in Guyana’s political history when the government chose to place a ban on all imported items. This placed a heavy burden on the people who had to find ways to cope with the new life style of having to make do. Life was a constant battle. I had to learn to make clothes for my children and myself. In addition I made every single item of linen in the home – linens, bed linen, tea towels, cushion covers, curtains with cheap materials bought at exorbitant prices on the black market. Answering to the creative urge that refused to be submerged, I acquired new skills.
As the politics changed, so did the culture. Markets re-opened, resulting in cheap items from China pushing those old skills into oblivion. No one wanted to learn the old fashioned, anachronistic skills anymore. Technology took over and fingers that were extremely facile on the keyboard were useless with needle and thread. Me? I was never any good with the keyboard.

After fifty-seven years and many thousands of students later I retired from teaching, my life-long profession. Retirement never posed a threat as I had dreamed of what I might do to stay occupied. I thought of doing something for charity. Using YouTube, I started making jewelry which I sold. The proceeds ($3,600:00) I donated to an ORPHAN SPONSORSHIP program. The money gave four orphans for a period of time enough for food, clothes, books for school and for their incidentals. However, I had to stop with this as it was affecting my eye sight.

But the creative urge caught up with me again and I taught myself water color painting. The greeting cards which I made, I sold. Under my daughter’s tutelage, I learned to use acrylic paints and painted pictures which I sold to friends and family members. The proceeds from all these efforts were used in a specific charity project which will be described if you read on.

I nave attached a few pictures of the cards and the acrylic paintings that I did.

Now into our lives comes the Covid pandemic and we are in lockdown. I read of people. getting bored, depressed, overweight, fractious, angry, resentful, scared, even divorced. I didn’t want those things for me . With renewed vigor, I started a new project in the year of Covid. . I named it WATER FOR LIFE PROJECT. From the sale of greeting cards, and acrylic pictures, I raised enough funds to complete my project.

It was one of the more enjoyable and productive time periods in my life. I painted for hours at a time answering to the creative urge. My husband would sit on the swing nearby and look on. In May of 2020, I donated $3000.00 to Zakaat Foundation of America to provide clean water to a place where none was accessible. The foundation chose the village of Kulela, Pusiga District in Ghana. They dug a well for the villagers. The women you see in the picture now do not have to walk three or more miles to fetch jars of water for their daily use. This well has freed up time for them to plant, to earn, to look after their children and more importantly, have clean drinking water, which will.prevent water borne diseases.

My new project is to raise enough funds for either another well or to support project “ Education for Women”. The aim of the latter project is to supply the school where they live with sewing machines that will be used to teach women and young girls how to sew. With this skill at their finger tips, they can open their own tailoring and dress making businesses or be employed in a garment factory. They can earn money to raise their standard of living.

I’m now making embroidered items for sale as well as the greeting cards. You see dear reader, those anachronistic skills can now, in some small way, help someone , somewhere. I use the different skills in the card making process- water color, gouache, card crafting, crochet, pressed flowers and beading.
There is also, an element of Islamic belief that motivates me. This kind of charity is known as “Sadaqah Jariyah”.
“Sadaqah Jariyah” is a charity that goes on into perpetuity. The Prophet (SAW said that providing people with water has huge rewards for anyone who does this deed.
Education is also seen as a “sadaqah jariyah” because it will help women to acquire a skill that will go on to help them earn for their families.

It would disturb me if it were to be thought that this blog post is to blow my trumpet. In Islam, the acts we do for charity must be for their own sake only and not to be broadcast. My niece and my daughter have nagged me into sharing this experience. Also, those family members and friends who helped me along the way will know how much their kindness has done.
And most importantly……

Like the bird that tried to douse the flames with a few drops of water, I try too.

I know in my heart that my efforts are like a drop in the ocean of poverty and want and need.
But dear reader, I will know that I tried.

My thanks and gratitude go out to all my family and friends who have supported me in my efforts. You too will share in the blessings.

5 thoughts on “The Bird that Tried

  1. Well done Amna congrats love everything about this ,very thst necklace beautiful

    Good reading , man but it lil long .


  2. Hi Channie,
    I totally enjoyed this blog post. I’ve heard that story about the bird before. As our pal “Wats” would say, ‘the moral of the story is to keep goin’ (not to be confused with “git goin’” 🙂

    The things you’ve created since you retired are lovely. Varied and with a delicate touch. You’re definitely a renaissance woman! I really love and admire how involved you are with these different charities. Amazing that they give you such great memories and build so many skills. Brava!


  3. I sent this to Lisana when she sent the link to this post to me. She asked me to post it in the comments. I have not changed or edited it because I felt it would alter, somehow, what I was trying to say and how it affected me:

    Something struck me forcefully when I read your mother’s post but i couldn’t figure out what. And then, this evening,, it just suddenly popped up in my subconscious…your mother has done a rare thing…she’s found the eternal fountain of life..she’s found a true quiet purpose…a job or a career can be a purpose but it’s also a necessity, so that tarnishes it a little because now you’re doing it to get something. None of that is present in what your mother is doing..she is doing truth for no other reason but that.. she personifies purity of purpose. There’s no ego there, and there’s great humility. Would that we all find a divine purpose…..and don’t tell me no rot about dem celebrities and dey various passion projects…when I hear about one of them who is just doing something without the expectation of a photo op or drawback, I will see it as true as what your mom is doing…


  4. My Friend, I never heard that bird story. I do love this true story that followed the bird story. I am impressed and elated by all you have done and still continue to do. These acts of kindness knotted to your labor of love must have brought enormous joy to those who have benefited in so many ways. Wow, because of you, those good people now have well water. I remember when we were kids how we used to walk a far distance to the well to get water for drinking and cooking. But the well was there. Did we take it for granted? And walking with neighbors and family to the well was a social event – spending quality time with lovely people. Maybe your gift will allow for socializing too especially when one reads the dedication to your dearest parents from a far away land in South America.

    I love your art work. You have great talents. I remember how you were one of the best teachers/colleagues with needle work, crochet, tatting and knitting. I did learn a lot from you. Thank you! I still remember the pink baby dress that you embroidered for a sale to raise funds for Cummings Lodge Secondary School. I bought that dress for my daughter.
    You were always engaged in fundraising for worthy causes and you still continue to do so to this day. Yes, I am so happy that you have told this story. I can feel your gratification. Cheers!


  5. Thank you, Miss, for an inspiring piece once again. You showed retirement can be fulfilling, rewarding and even liberating.


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