I expected it to break under the weight. I was fully prepared for my back to sway and distort with the whole mass of Africa firmly planted on that point between my shoulder blades where burdens tend to congregate.
It didn’t happen though. How could I justify a break when the people here speak of their hope? The woman who leads this support group for HIV positive people opens the meeting by saying, “Thank you friends for being so brave to come and share today with our friends from Canada. They have come to hear us so that they can tell more people your stories. These are some of the people who helped to pay for our program”. And all the Maasai turn to us and nod like we are the heroes and I gasp at the thought for I have never been more inspired by someones heroism.
Here under the acacia tree Miriam begins her story. How she was left alone in her bed, dying from the infection and from the misery of being abandoned by her community when World Vision came to her. They assisted her with accessing anti-retroviral medications. They trained her to be a community health worker and to reach out to other HIV positive people in her community. She says “And now each day, because God gives me one more to live, I know that I have a purpose, that we will help more and more people in our community”. This community with twice the infection rate of the rest of Kenya; more than 13 %.
Here we sing songs of praise in the tongue of the Maasai to a God who would give them opportunity to live another day because HE HAD A PURPOSE FOR THEM. I tried to clap as we sang but the tears rolling down my face made it hard to keep a rhythm. The smile on my face impossible to hide. And they cried THANK YOU FOR TAKING CARE OF US GOD. JESUS WE NEED YOU.
The stories are of new families formed in this support group. Of orphans given homes, of new friends sharing all they have. The stories are rich in bravery and grace. I am covered in flies; we all are and still I can’t think of looking away, of leaving. This tree? It’s on fire with the presence of a God who finds the sick and the broken and weaves us all back together into something that matters, something beautiful.
And beneath that tree when the stories are all told, when the prayers are said, when the songs cease, we eat together. I sit with my new friend who I can communicate with only through touch and through spirit. She holds tight to my hand after we eat and soon her son comes up and he translates for us.
“The people in this community will not eat our food. They think it is cursed. She wants you to know she would have had me kill one of the goats for you if she thought you would eat with her. She is very honoured and blessed that you shared this meal with us”
Those goats are life and livelihood to these people. I sip deeply on my tin cup, enjoy my tea mixed with goat’s milk and ginger and I know that this has given life to my dry bones too.
Do you want to be a part of this story too? Join us!
Learn about the communities we are visiting here. We will visit Garba Tulla (a new project just a year into development) as well as Masharu (a village that is 12 years into its World Vision development cycle).
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Or sponsor a child from Garba Tulla here!
We will do our best to update this blog frequently as well! See all World Vision related posts here.