Here is an account of a simple act of kindness that had enormous repercussions – for good.


Sometimes folk wonder what happens to the things they so generously give to help others. This is the true story of how a new pair of thongs donated by a local and slipped into the backpack to a remote area nurse who works in a small health clinic in the Kimberleys made a life better.

Out near the Bungle Bungles, there is a small community comprised of mainly indigenous people. It was here, a few weeks ago, while running some errands I came across Jean. Dear, old, frail and occasionally forgetful Jean had been combing the streets all morning. She was distressed and tired. “Those kids have taken my shoes!” she proclaimed.

I looked, her feet bare and sore from the hot bitumen road. Walking off the road was no better as shards of sharp, dry, black spear grass embed in your feet. I asked her to jump in the car, saying I thought there might be some shoes in the clinic. It took a few repetitions of the sentence before her panicked obsession broke its track.

We sat in the clinic, sipping our tea, having a bit of a yarn but it wasn’t till I returned to the room with a pair of new bright blue and black thongs that her eyes lit up. Just like the fairytale, Cinderella, her foot slid into the thong and it was an absolutely perfect fit. Gobsmacked, she asked where they had come from.

“They’re a gift from Wendy.”

“Wendy” she whispered, looking puzzled and concerned that she should know who Wendy was.

I quickly added “ Wendy is my mother’s cousin’s grandfather’s wife’s brother’s niece.

Yesterday, I went to visit Jean. A dry, dusty breeze swept past as I climbed the metal stairs at Jean’s house. She was sitting back in her cushioned chair on the veranda, her usual spot. It’s a good vantage point to keep an eye on those kids, see who is visiting who and all the happenings in her beloved top camp.

“Those dogs got my shoes!“ she exclaimed as I approached. I looked around for the culprit. Her dog had had puppies, they were yapping and playing all around her. Then she pulled out and held up those bright blue and black thongs from her secret safe spot, right beneath her bottom where she was sitting. The thongs had been chewed on indeed, evident by the array of tiny puppy puncture marks all around the sides.

“They’re still good!” she said with a giant smile.

Small things help more than we could ever imagine.

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