Often when in Bikeke we get to visit some of the homes of the vulnerable children attending Liberty School, most of whom would not be attending school at all without the vision of the Director John Wayonye. It’s always a very humbling experience to sit in the dwellings for even a few minutes with the relatives of some of the students and hear their stories.
This particular time, we got to visit a single mom Jentrix Nangami whom we had visited last year. When we reached her place, I couldn’t believe it was the same woman. She was grinning ear to ear, so happy to receive us and especially thrilled to share what’s been going on. She excitedly started with telling us how she was able to “expand” her home to not just one room for the six of them, but now she had “added” to now have two rooms. It was clean, decorated, homey and inviting. I couldn’t possibly tell you what it was like being with this electrifying mom, so I’ll let her tell you herself. Remember English is a second language for her that she rarely uses. We were so grateful for her courage to just step out and talk to us freely without a translator. Here is part of her share:
“By the time my husband died. He left me with five childrens. I was pregnant. My last daughter now she was with me six months pregnant. So by that time, I think this was the end of my life. How will I do with these childrens? My father, he told me, ‘Come, just come home.’ It was very, very painful. I say that I cannot go home because of the death of my husband. I say I will just go back where I was staying. By that time, I was just there (pointing across the marketplace) behind there; I was not working. I am not where I am now. So when I came to the market I was totally naked. My life was very poor. I had no one who can even see me and even assist me in food. It was a very hard life. But, I appreciate God where He assisted me.
“I think where will I with my children be landing. I called the Director to ask for a chance for my childrens. He asked me so many, many questions and I was trying. When he looked at me, he told me God must do very much and you are going very far, because what God can do, no man can do. I appreciate it so much. I feel like, the one who is giving some assistance to him. He took my children, those four of them. The little one was still young. He started life with him and I saw many marvelous things. For the first week the children came back home, I saw, ‘This is my children?’ I was very surprised to look at my children and see them come where I am, ‘Mom, mom!’ I was wondering! ‘Is this my daughters, my children?’ I was wondering. They were wearing very beautiful uniform; they have shoes. Even my neighbors are looking at them. I appreciate that so much. It is true. It is Mungu (God) is the one doing marvelous things.
“So I am continuing with my life. I get a chance in the borehole (well) there. There is one who is there who give me that work there. They give me by the end of the month something small for my assistance. So, I believe in God He can do marvelous things. And I appreciate God and through you I know very well that God has a plan. He said I am going to take your husband, and there are some people who are going to stand with you. … I don’t know what I shall say…you are doing very different things, which when I think or I look at you, I say, ‘Live long!!!’”
To put her whole story in perspective and why it was such a touching time (one of our male team members couldn’t even share he was so emotional because of her very obvious sincere and animated gratitude amidst what in our eyes was extreme poverty). Sitting with her five children and one neighbor girl in a two room “apartment” with barely anything, it was indeed humbling to be with someone showing such obvious gratitude for all God had done in her, for her children, and for their lives as a family. She felt loved, cared about, part of, as well as having dignity as a woman who could exist and provide for her children. She had applied for and been given the job of managing the community borehole (well), where people in the village come, pay two shillings to fill their jerry cans. Her hours? 6am until 7pm with a couple of hours for lunch. Her pay? One thousand shillings a month…$10. Her response? Gratitude.