Miss IJRA, Little Miss Naschitti offer gifts to Shiprock shelter

By Alastair Lee Bitsoi
Navajo Times

SHIPROCK, January 3, 2013

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(Times photo – Alastair Bitsoi)

TOP: Miss Indian Junior Rodeo Association Adrianna Bitsie, left, and Little Miss Naschitti Kaci Begay, right, visited the Shiprock Home for Women and Children on Dec. 21 and donated 16 gifts to those at the shelter.

W hen Miss Indian Junior Rodeo Association Adrianna Bitsie and Little Miss Naschitti Kaci Begay visited the Shiprock Home for Women and Children two weeks ago, they went with Christmas gifts in hand.

On Dec. 21, the two princesses brought 16 gifts, which were bought out of funds from their own pockets, and placed them under the shelter's Christmas tree for the women and children, and occasionally men, who will use the shelter as a refuge for safety this holiday season.

Although the pair didn't have direct visitation with the victims – three mothers and 10 children – due to confidentiality and safety reasons, having the opportunity to provide for those in need was a humbling experience.

"I don't really know how it is not to get gifts and I like how it feels to get gifts, and I feel sad that not every child experiences that," said Bitsie, 15, who was crowned Miss IJRA on Sept. 15.

Bitsie, who is Naakai Dine'é, born for Bit'aahnii, added that the gift-giving partnership with Begay was also an effort by the princesses to bring happiness to the mothers and children.

"I want them to experience receiving a gift because everybody should experience it and feel that happiness and that somebody cares," said the Mexican Springs, N.M. native.

For Begay, 6, who was crowned Little Miss Naschitti last month on Nov. 15, she was disappointed she didn't get to interact with the children, but was still blissful about providing toys for them.

"I brought baby toys, scarves and a brush for the 10-year-old," said Begay, who is Tachiini, born for Tlaaschei'i. "I got the moms soap, shampoo, conditioner and hair spray."

Other gifts the princesses gave to the shelter include personal hygiene items like body wash and toiletries and coloring books, crayons and arts and crafts items.

Begay's mother, Carlene Tahe-Begay, said she knows first-hand the trauma victims experience in domestic violence cases from working as an emergency room nurse at Gallup Indian Medical Center and now at the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock.

"In the emergency room setting in Gallup, I saw a lot of domestic violence and saw what ladies went through," she said. "I was there when these things happened to them immediately after and how they feel and how scared they are."

The shelter's manager, Charlene Jack, called the gifts from Miss IJRA and Little Miss Naschitti a blessing.

"It's a true blessing to a lot of folks…" Jack said of the victims. The gifts, she said, will especially bring smiles of happiness to the children in the shelter.

"I feel really happy when I see them smile," said Lucita Benally, one of the shelter's child advocates, about how the gifts will brighten up the children.

As a child advocate, Benally said she sees everything from emotional, physical, mental, spiritual and sexual abuse.

"I see sadness in them," Benally said, adding that the Christmas gifts will help fill the void of their emptiness and situations.

The shelter, open 24 hours and seven days a week, provides safety, shelter, counseling, education, referrals, transportation, cultural sensitivity, legal advocacy, networking with other agencies and advocacy for victims and their children.

The shelter provides these services using traditional Diné teachings of K'e and Hozho (kinship and harmony).

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