Charity project for victim of land mine blast comes full-circle

Charity project for victim of land mine blast comes full-circle »Play Video
Blessing Makwera (left) and Hayden Skoch (right) met face-to-face for the first time on Tuesday. (KATU photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Blessing Makwera and Hayden Skoch met face-to-face for the first time on Tuesday, but their friendship began four years ago.

“It’s really awesome. Four years ago, it didn’t feel that real. He was more of a story. I didn’t imagine meeting him today,” Hayden said. “I organized a dance to raise money for Blessing.”

Blessing was in his native Zimbabwe trying to recover from a horrible injury. In 2007, he found a small device with wires sticking out of it and started playing with it.

“I was experimenting, not knowing it was a land mine,” said Blessing. “So I put it close to my mouth and it exploded.”

Hayden knew someone involved with Operation of Hope, a national group trying to get Blessing the reconstructive surgery he needed. In the meantime, the dance she organized at Catlin Gabel school raised $1,100.

“I was so excited. This was my first chance to be closely involved in something like this,” Hayden said. “It makes you realize that everyone can give something to everyone.”

Blessing got his surgery two months ago in San Diego, Calif., but he still needs more operations in the next few months. He said he never forgot what Hayden and the other students did for him.

“I felt like the world of young people also needed me. They loved me,” he said.

Now he’s staying in Portland for two months and volunteering at Catlin Gabel as a teaching assistant.

“I can also do my best to make sure that they know that I love them and acknowledge what they’re doing for me.”

“It’s amazing that he’s at the school now and a part of something that helped him four years ago,” Hayden said.