The common questions asked now that we are home are “How was it? Did you have a good trip?” It’s great that people want to know and the immediate answer is “fantastic;” although having witnessed poverty and the needs of many people fantastic is hardly an adequate response. We have so many stories to tell; some sad, others inspirational. Do we tell of the lady caring for a baby abandoned on the beach soon after birth? Or of a mother of 7 children taking in another 3 orphaned children? Or being given Christmas gifts from someone deeply impoverished? Or comforting someone hearing of the death of their sister? Or of the lunchtime queue for food? Or the obvious impact on two young men caring for a special friend dying in pain? Or watching a young boy starting school after a two hour walk? Or..? Or..?
Perhaps the starting place is considering a picture in our minds. The coast south of Mombasa is lined with many fantastic sandy beaches with shells to pick up and collect. Some are brightly coloured; others have lost their shine and when you pull them out of the sand are chipped and broken. Many of the people we have met are like the shells; the more you engage in conversation, the more you appreciate their fragility and their beauty and inner strength in the face of adversity. In a sense, the beach sums up the mission of Education for Life working in an area with thousands of lives. Like the thousands of shells on the beach, which would, in the course of time be broken by the power of the ocean beyond the shoreline, Education for Life can only help a finite amount of people. This requires discernment; knowing where to start, caring for the broken as well as the ones that shine and to have the faith to let go at the appropriate time. Having set the picture the answer to “How was it?” “Did you have a good trip?” is “we have so much we need to share with you!”
The great news is that we can all be part of this mission! The more we take part in it through prayer, giving and doing; the wider the impact in the community served by Education for Life.
David Cole (St. Lukes, Nottingham)