Here’s a little sneak peek at the shawl that I’m working on right now. It’s done in Yarn Love’s Elizabeth Bennet in Shiny Penny.
Ok, so the name. Demalangeni. That’s Day-MAH-lawn-GAY-nee. And this the Demalangeni that the shawl is named after.
“Dema” (as I refer to her in my head) is a 12 year old girl that I met at our Care Point in Swaziland. I’m not the most social person. I’m pretty shy initially and am not the type to just walk up to someone and make small talk. Dema, not so much! She’s a bubbly and intelligent girl. I was sitting on the bench of a broken picnic table with probably 5 pre-school children crawling all over me jabbering in Siswati. It was our first day at the Care Point. Then Dema plopped herself down next to me and said, “Hi, will you be my friend?” with the most beautiful accent. Her voice still echos in my head, the way she would draw out the ‘e’ in the word ‘yes’ when we talked.
My first task as her friend was to teach her a song. No choice, she just declared I’d be teaching her! I don’t sing solo, by the way… She walked over to her friend, unzipped the backpack, and pulled out an English workbook. She sat back down next to me and flipped to the page, pointing to the words of the song. Jesus Loves Me. Phew, I know this one! I start singing it and she immediately joins me in singing. She didn’t need my help, her English is perfect. As we get to the part of the song that repeats Yes, Jesus Loves Me, about half a dozen more pre-teen girls gather around us joining in the song. And the truth of what they sang, the beauty of their voices, and the reality of their situation hit me full force, and I had to choke down tears to finish the song with them all.
Then they were called inside and ran off. 5 minutes, but I’ll never forget them. I did have small bits of time with Dema over the next two days. She is one of the few girls in her class who confidently speak perfect English. When asked what her favorite subject was, she said English, which seemed obvious! When asked why, she said, “because then I’m able to communicate with you all.” At one point she was sitting next to me and a group of about 5 of her girlfriends were on the other side of me chatting animatedly. I asked her what they were saying or talking about as they had burst into giggles several times. She said, “They are saying that they heard someone say ‘talk to the hand’… what does that mean?” Hilarious what they pick up on the other side of the world, huh? I explained to her that was just a silly thing that American teenagers, mostly, used to say as an insult, and showed her the hand motion. She just laughed at me, agreeing that Americans are silly.
Needless to say she’s one I will remember forever, so I wanted to honor and remember her through one of my designs.