Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ba C

Not long ago our church in the village started doing this thing called "Ba C" which runs kind of like a "secret friend" operation. From the get-go, it has been so fun, and honestly comical, to watch this program unfold. First of all, there is really nothing random about it. We drew numbers out of a bucket to determine who our secret friend should be, but the organizers sort of rearranged all the names to match up people they thought were a good fit for one another. Second, there is nothing secret about it. Person A's secret friend is person B and person B's secret friend is person A. (ie, if you know who you have, you also know who has you.) Third, the gifts that are given are almost entirely kitchen-y things, but to make sure that each person gets something useful, each of the secret friends sends a representative to the other secret friend to ask them what they want. "Uh, tell Bana Robert to buy me a basket," I told my secret friend's husband. 

So knowing who your secret friend is and what they are getting you seems like it would be sort of lame, but I have to tell you, I have never seen such excitement and enthusiasm erupt amongst the women of the village as when the Ba C gift exchange went down. There was singing, and dancing and hugging and crying and all sorts of good feelings - and it was precious. 

It finally started to make sense to me after watching each pair of women dance up to the front, arms linked and bodies swaying back and forth, why this seemingly silly, not so secret gift exchange was actually very significant: Its all about the message - "lady, you are swell, and with this plastic bucket and set of knives, I'm telling you that you are special to me and many others. thank you for who you are."

Words and actions conveying womanly affirmation are few and far between in the village setting. There is no mothers day. Husbands don't come home with flowers for his wife "just because"... or ever.   Women are expected to labor and serve and sacrifice in a thankless environment because that's what women do. But the Ba C gift exchange changes the sound track of their lives if even for a a single afternoon. And that makes it both meaningful and worthwhile.

You've got a friend in me. 
You've got a friend in me. 
When the road looks rough ahead, 
just remember what your [Ba C] said,
You've got a friend in me.  

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