What came first?

by tkos on September 28, 2012

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‘It’s like, what came first, the chicken or the egg?!!!’ I screamed, roaring with laughter, genuinely impressed by my own uncanny, intelligent and talented brand of comedy.

‘You’re not funny.’ Kimmi says in a flat out matter of fact manner.

A comic genius, not appreciated in my own time, I think to myself with a proud, stupid grin across my face, confident that my wise and unique wit will be perfect for parenting one day.

We have just planned our fourth project of the trip and it is one that will define The Kindness of Strangers. I’ve labelled it ‘The Chicken & the Egg’ project and I’m hoping if I say it enough, it will stick in Kimmi’s mind until she uses it. We’re sitting in the back of a three wheeled half motorbike/half trailer bright red type vehicle, which is not much bigger than a toy car. And we are going to visit the chicken man because that’s where you go when you are shopping for live chickens.

Firdouse, our new friend, host and soon to be labelled ‘one of the worlds good guys’, had planted the idea of the project in our minds late last night and today we were to make it happen. The Kindness of Strangers are to buy 10 chickens and one lucky rooster for two separate families that could provide an environment for them. But there are a few more layers than that. One of the families is poor, but not really helpless, in that they had some land and a gas lantern lit shack that resembled a one room house on it. In addition to that, the man has a skill in that he is a carpenter.

Initially, he refused the offer of the chickens, stating that there could be other families that need them more than his. It showed a little bit of honour, a bit more integrity and a lot more selflessness. Right away we knew he was the right guy, as we weren’t giving these chickens away for free, he had to earn them.

He graciously and humbly accepted the 10 chickens and one rooster on two conditions. Firstly, that he would breed the chickens to the point when they number 20. Once this happens, he would give away 10 chickens and at least one rooster to another family in coordination to our newly found project manager, Firdouse. And secondly, he would build a chicken coup for the chosen family with his carpentry skills, and every other family in the project.

This community based, self sustainable, income generating project was perfect for The Kindness of Strangers. It ticked all of our boxes, and could help unlimited families, within time and reason.

The second family in the project benefitted the poorest family in the village, as per Firdouse. A widow with four children living in an electric free stone single room hut on government granted land. To this point, she would collect cardboard for income.

This family was Firdous’ inspiration for the project. He had personally donated two chickens and one rooster during the week prior to enable them with some sort of independence. It would be a slow start but at least it was something, and all he could afford. Our addition of ten chickens took this project to a new level and could empower the family to sell eggs and chickens instead of unattended cardboard boxes. And with true Sri Lankan spirit and pride, the family accepted the chickens under the condition that they would donate a further ten chickens to another family when the time was right. It was the first time we had conducted a project with a ‘Pay It Forward’ concept and it felt good. Really good.

We’d injected some cash into the community via the chicken man and transferred it through to two well deserving families. It wasn’t much, but enough to make a long term difference to two families today, and more families tomorrow. And in addition, it defined what The Kindness of Strangers was all about. For the first time, Kimmi and I had some clarity as to our objective and what boxes we wanted to tick. Who we are and how we can help.

After a long day of transferring chickens in the red trailer throughout the village, Kimmi and I were busy feeling good about ourselves. Firdouse received a phone call. One of the widows new chickens had laid an egg. It was like the first dividend payout on newly bought stocks and shares, merely hours after the initial purchase. It was an exciting time. We quickly jumped back in the red trailer and before we knew it, we found ourselves with the family again. It was then that we saw the true happiness of what we had created. This simple little gesture, this introduction of chickens was financial income and security for this womans children and future. If it wasn’t completely culturally inappropriate, I have no doubt she would have squeezed us silly with appreciation.

And the name, ‘The Chicken and the Egg Project’, has stuck.

As to what came first? We never really discussed it again.


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