Imagine you’re visiting an open-air market in Cape Town, South Africa, talking to a bright, impoverished young vendor, not knowing your life is about to change.
The young man has the improbable name of ‘Happy’.
Your actions will also change his life and that of his whole community, but as you return to your comfortable home in Toronto, Canada, no-one has any idea of what’s about to unfold.
Meet my dear friend Kamala-Jean Gopie.
We first met when she was a teacher and community leader. As a television journalist with Canada’s public broadcaster, CBC, I interviewed her. Later, we worked together as community volunteers and became friends.
I know this woman’s heart. She gives without expecting recognition. And that’s partly why I’m recognizing her here.
I’ve known Kamala-Jean’s kindness firsthand. In one of my worst summers since the car accident, this elegant, dignified woman drove a long distance to my home, repeatedly, to visit, comfort me — and weed my garden.
But her works go far beyond one person. She’s not rich, yet she has provided scholarships to needy students, contributed to Canadian arts, educational and community organizations — big and small — and helped many.
But nothing she’s done has surprised me – and perhaps even her – as much as this one.
Kamala-Jean lingered to chat with the young vendor. She’d won her auction bid for a trip to South Africa and was now visiting Cape Town.
She asked him questions. He described his role as family breadwinner, and his dream of becoming a teacher. But he hadn’t completed high school. He was here selling goods to support his family back home in Malawi – a four-day bus ride away.
“When he said he had 6 siblings at home and his father was dead, and if he only had his Grade 12, he could help his family out of poverty, it just moved me.”
Kamala-Jean gave him her email address and asked him to contact her.
She asked her cousin, director-general for the Centre for Disease Control in South Africa, to find out more. He confirmed Happy’s story about the school. Kamala-Jean decided to fund Happy’s return to Malawi and his schooling.
Then, last June, she visited Happy and his family at their rural home in Malosa, bringing books and other supplies and singing with the children.
“The family lives in three small houses with no real furniture, electricity or plumbing. There is no kitchen or bathroom. They sleep on straw mats on the ground.”
She learned there was no school for young children nearby.
Back home in Toronto, she spoke with Diana Burke, head of Canadian charity People Bridge. Diana encouraged her.
“I wrote to Happy and asked: ‘What would it cost to build a school?’ Happy said, ‘I’ll talk to the chief.’
“The chief was very supportive. Then Happy told me: ‘My family will donate one hectare of land.’ “
Happy’s family was giving what it could.
Things moved quickly in both Canada and Malawi. People Bridge started a fund for the school, with Kamala-Jean and friends donating. Within days, trees were felled and building started.
“It took 5 weeks. The school was completed by the first week of September and I travelled there and opened the school on September 18th.”
“What on earth made you do this wonderful, crazy thing?” I asked her.
“I didn’t know it was going to be wonderful and crazy. I had no notion. I just spoke to this young man who seemed honest and wholesome. His honesty was palpable.
“When I was leaving the market, I gave him $10. He put his hands together in prayer and said ‘Oh, Ma’am. God bless you.’ I had to turn away. I was so moved. But I never knew things would end up where they did.”
COMING SOON: Pt 2. A WHOLE COMMUNITY IS CHANGED
63 thoughts on “Kamala-Jean’s Amazing Story”
Thank you, Cynthia! This is a beautiful story of how a simple kindness grows and blossoms, the flower a surprise and joy to the gardener. We are all potential gardeners of good will and happiness.
What a beautiful way you put that, Lavinia. And so true.
Kamala-Jean is a true gardener. Her kindness sowed a whole new garden on another continent, all spawned out of listening and acting.
Yes indeed, Susanne. I like the way you describe it.
What a beautiful story. God bless the Kamala Jeans of this world. 🌼🌼🌼
How lovely. Thank you.
Oh, my, what a beautiful story about a beautiful woman! God bless her and all of her efforts!
Indeed, Linda. What a blessing she is.
Wow what an amazing story, I can’t wait to hear what happened next.
You’re right, Andrea. I’ve been hearing about this for a year, and started writing this story about as long ago — and yet, it still surprises me.
Such a wonderful woman. The world needs to hear more stories about selfless people.
I agree. She and Happy are so uplifting in their efforts.
What a story and what a beautiful woman, inside and out. Best, best, best for Happy, his family, and the school.
Well said, Laurie, and thank you.
Now here is a woman and an act that should be filling our news channels! Thank you so much for sharing your friend and her good work with us – this has started my day on just the right note! I look forward to reading more of this remarkable story. xo
I agree with you. Glad you read part 2 as well.
Reblogged this on Haddon Musings and commented:
Cynthia brings us the story of an amazing woman and where simple acts of generosity can lead.
I’m honoured, Bernadette. Thank you!
Beautiful story! God bless you Kamala-Jean.
I’m sure she’ll read this and thank you for it. I thank you too.
What a wonderful gift your friend has given that community. Your story warms my heart, thank you for sharing.
I’m glad. And I thank you for your kind comment.
Inspired by an act of human kindness
Thank you, Marilyn. Such a good thing she is doing.
Wonderful, wonderful story and Kamala-Jean is indeed a wonderful person. Thank you, the world feels like a better place after reading that.
You’re so right, Hilary. It does!
This is such a beautiful inspiring post, Cynthia. Thank you so much for sharing Kamala-Jean’s story of kindness and compassion.
It’s a pleasure to share it, Carol. I’m really glad you’ve enjoyed the story.
We need many more just like her!
What a kind heart and lovely story. Blessings to Kamala_Jean.
Such a kind heart and determination to follow through and make a difference, Brad. I know she will appreciate your kind comment.
What a magnificent woman. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story, Cynthia.
And thanks for reading it and replying, Jill. Yes: she is magnificent!
Amazing lady, beautiful story! ❤
I agree with you, Bette. Thank you.
Oh Cynthia! An amazing woman who takes opportunities–and how nice for us to hear this story. It’s a call to action and balm for the soul.
“A call to action and balm for the soul”: yes! Especially in these times.
Cynthia, thank you so much for sharing this wonderfully heartwarming story with us… I feel honoured just to read about Kamala and her amazing generosity in time and money to help not only Happy but his community. Where these is a will, there is a way has never been more true. 😀❤️
It is truly a privilege to be able to share this story, Annika. I’ve been following Kamala-Jean’s journey with Happy and the community and started the story many moons ago. It kept developing and developing and I’m glad I could finally publish the story!
Kamala-Jean is a true citizen of the world, empowering others to be educated and independent. Wonderful.
Well said! Thank you, Gallivanta.
This is such a beautiful story about a beautiful person. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting, Eugenia. I appreciate it.
What a wonderful, beautiful, generous person. Would that we all had these traits. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you. I think many of us do, but we are not sure about making that first move. I was surprised when Kamala-Jean told me about the decision to help Happy return to school. And now they’ve done all this!
Thank-you for telling us about your loving and generous friend, Cynthia!
You’re welcome. She is marvellous.
Ah! Such a wonderful story, Cynthia!! When love exists all things are possible!! 💜💜
Thank you, Lorrie. So very well said.
Kamala-Jean personifies selfless generosity and if there is a Heaven she needn’t make a reservation; her place is secure
Well said, Keith! Thank you.
Amazing!!! Great pictures too.
Isn’t it just beautiful to know there are beautiful people in this world who are selfless and great humanitarians. God bless Kamala. 🙂
Oh my what a wonderful story ..what a fine person she is!
Kamala is one of a kind! Over the years that I have known her she has always amazed me with her generosity. She has out done herself this time…..to the benefit of the most needy! The world needs more Kamala!
Kamala Jean is a school mate. We go back many years. Our high school principal would be so proud of her as she gives back so selflessly to those wno need her help.
You’re so right, Jean. ‘Selflessly’ is the word.
What an amazing story. And what an amazing thing Kamala-Jean has done. What’s more, just look at the love in her eyes, her face. But no surprise there., eh?
So glad you used the Canadian ‘eh’, Jeanne! (smile) Yes! Kamala-Jean is as genuine and kind as she seems.