Christmas 2010 happened to be the first Christmas that Akasha attended Kindergarten. So Akasha and I were both newbies to the ‘sending presents to Bosnia’ campaign.
I loved the plan and thought it would do Akasha good to take part. Though I’m not sure I explained it very well to her. The general idea is this: you find yourself an empty shoe box, wrap the lid and the base separately in wrapping paper and then fill the box with presents, for a child in Bosnia. Presents should include both new and second-hand items (second-hand could be a winter hat, a teddy, a small bag). The outside of the box must be labelled with the rough age of the intended child and it’s sex.
Seeing as Akasha had just turned four, I decided we should prepare a gift box for a four-year-old girl.
The Kindergarten teachers told parents enthusiastically, that the children love preparing their presents and they are photographed taking their boxes to the lorry, which will later become part of the convoy travelling to Bosnia.
So having made my decision to take part, I sat down with Akasha at the table and told her this story:
“There’s a little girl, she’s the same age as you, and she lives quite far away in a country called Bosnia. A few years ago there was a war there and the people who live there do not have very much. The little girl, for instance, does not have many toys, or many pretty clothes like you, Akasha. At Christmas time her parents can not afford to buy her presents, because they have to use what little money they have to buy basic food.
It’s sometimes scary growing up in a land where there has recently been a war and the little girl would really like it if you could give her one of your teddies to cuddle, so that she’ll feel safe.
Mummy wants to buy some little presents for the girl too. You can come shopping with me and we’ll buy the gifts together because you know exactly what a four-year-old girl likes best.”
The onslaught of questions that followed, both on that day, and on the run up to placing the box in the lorry, I could not have envisaged.
Akahsa wanted to know if the little girl had a baby brother or sister? Fully in the knowledge that teddies were highly sought after (we ended up with all the children donating heavily and me arriving at the Kindergarten, loaded with plastic bags) I answered yes. To which followed, does she have an older sister/brother?
A major issue Akasha focussed on was the name of the child. At first, I tried to tell her that the box could really go to any four-year-old girl, but she wouldn’t accept it. So one day, she had me on the hop and after a bit of quick thinking, I came up with the name ‘Soskia’, not Saskia – because Saskia is a really popular name in Germany and I had visions of the now obsessed child asking random Sakia’s if they had received her box, with her teddy and her bag, if she liked the necklace that had been custom designed for her and what she thought of the painstakingly drawn picture?
So Soskia was born.
And became pretty much a part of our every day lives.
unsuitable, due to costing Eur 200 or being potentially too delicate to survive the journey.
Santa comes on the 6th of December here. Which led to the inquisition: “Would Santa go to Soskia? Was she well-behaved enough? What would she get? But you said she wouldn’t get any Christmas pressies, mummy, and that’s why we’re giving her my teddy!”
And instead of the typical, “Are we there yet?” Time became filled with, “Has she got my parcel yet? Has she opened it yet? When will she open it?”
It’s now April. But still Soskia is always on the tip of Akasha’s tongue. Every toy she no longer wants, every dress she outgrows, is for Soskia.
Once a sibling scolded her for wasting her dinner, “I bet you Soskia is really hungry right now and would appreciate that food.”
Everything is misplaced. Akasha has an invisible friend. But I designed her.