A while back I talked about the impact the last scene of Schindler’s Listhad on me. In the final moments of the film, as Oscar Schindler looked at his pen, his car, his suit, his ring … his life, he suddenly wished he’d given up more, to buy more Jews to work in his factories so that he could save them from the Holocaust. What began as shrewd business dealing ended as a realisation that his list was, as his assistant said, life.
One of only four colour images in the black and white film is the image of the little girl in the red coat. The first time she appears, she is walking through the streets while the Nazis are clearing the ghettos, sometimes walking in line with the other Jews, other times, frightened and trying to find some place to hide. She escapes into a building, and the scene follows to watch her as she hides under a bed. Schindler is clearly impacted as he watches the cruelty of the Nazis unfolding all around this little girl, helpless and innocent.
Later in the film the Nazi soldiers are instructed to dig up the bodies from the Krakow ghetto so that the evidence of the atrocities can be destroyed. The decomposing corpses are trundled along on wagons, and Schindler catches a glimpse of a tinted red coat. Clearly, hiding under the bed did not save the girl in the red coat who’d caught Schindler’s eye weeks before.
A few weeks ago, at a Samaritan’s Feet Shoes of Hope Distribution, I was impacted by a little girl in pink. While most of the children at the school were wearing green, as part of their school uniform, this little girl was wearing a pink coat. She participated in the music and dancing that began the day with delight. I saw her make her way through the line, as she was one of the first to have her feet measured and be seated in front of a footwasher. Manny washed her feet, and I caught a glimpse of a few folks praying fervently for her after she was fitted with new shoes. I asked one of the teachers what they were praying about.
The little girl in the pink coat has brain cancer.
I could hardly begin to compute this. When you hear these types of things, your mind begins to scan through the possibilities. People beat cancer every day. But it is usually with early diagnosis and expensive medical treatment. For a kid whose parents work in the nearby wine and fruit farms, I doubt cancer treatment is in the budget.
Does this little girl have hope? Truly, I think her only hope is Jesus.
The little girl in the pink coat played with me today. She humoured my humble best attempts at Afrikaans, chatted with me, and introduced me to friends. If they were too shy to answer my poorly spoken “What’s your name?” she’d excitedly tell them to answer. After a big hug, she began playing with my hair and asked her friends to come and do so, too. Soon several kids were gently stroking my fringe (bangs) to one side, neatly tidying the hair that falls near my cheeks, and twisting and curling the long layers around the back into twirls and shapes I wished I had a mirror to see.
When it was time to go, I went back to say goodbye to the little girl in the pink coat. I’d taken a picture where I could see myself in her eyes, but I wondered what she really saw when she looked at me.
I am glad someone prayed for her that day. I am glad someone told her that God loves her and she is special.
I’m aware that for some of these kids — just like for all of us — tomorrow isn’t certain.
The girl in the pink coat definitely has more hope for a future than the girl in the red coat did. But sometimes the countless deaths due to simple and preventable disease (not brain cancer: I’m talking about malaria, malnutrition, even diarrhea) feel like a holocaust.
The world keeps spinning, day after day, even though thousands of children are dying needlessly. Are we turning a blind eye to the poverty holocaust? To the HIV holocaust?
For many, the girl in the red coat represented the six million Jews — many unknown and unnamed who died during the Holocaust. The world eventually intervened … but the loss that took place before we did is almost inconceivable…unspeakable.
For me, the girl in the pink coat represents the millions of children in poverty that might feel forgotten. I am thankful that the kids we visited on this day were not in abject poverty, but it is clear that a lot of them have life really rough. The lives of so many children around the world are full of suffering. Sometimes they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Do they wonder if the world doesn’t know, doesn’t care, or thinks it can’t do anything to help?
Surely if we know a holocaust is going on, we’ll do something about it…right?