One thing about Africans is when they walk together they walk incredibly slow. They do a shuffle foot mosey where the shoe sole seems to never lift off the ground. The speed of travel is not important, being together on the way is what matters.
Hope loves to make fun of American women we see walking. She will take off like a “Mzungu woman,” power walk for about 20 yards and doubles over laughing at her own joke. She then goes back to her normal mosey. With my long legs, I struggle to stay next to her and often find myself way ahead if I don’t think to stay by her side. So I put my arm around her waist to keep the pace she wants.
When the Hebrews made their Exodus they walked out of Egypt. They walked. Slaves,400 years in Africa, women with children in tow, the old and work worn, imagine the pace of that crowd. It does not surprise me it took 40 years. And God traveled with them, his arm around their waist.
If God were a non-profit organization and funded by American donors his ROI (return on investment) graphs would look pretty poor. 40 years – no results. One empire destroyed and 600,000+ lost in the desert. Even the UN does better than that!
So much African development work fails for this exact reason. Western people have time frames and swoop in and don’t take time to learn the stories or get to know the people they are trying to “help.” They have expectations. They don’t walk arm in arm.
This is what makes HOPE+ Africa different and better than the big organizations, we keep it African, we go slow. And I pray for patience.
The image above is of Hutu refugees fleeing Rwanda’s RPF soldiers and revenge killings going on in Rwanda. They sought shelter in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1994, only to be shelled by the RPF and harassed by militias inside the refugee camps. It is estimated that 2.1 refugees left Rwanda during the genocide.
Chantel Can’t Sew
The above is a photo from the twin’s birthday. Our friend, Chantel, on the right, was walking with me and Hope the day before. She told me her story on the way. She has been our friend for four years now, this was the first time I heard the whole tale.
In short, she survived the ’94 genocide, but all her brothers, uncles, all the men in her family died. She survived because she was molested as a pre-teen and sent away to Uganda to have her baby. She got lost on the way, couldn’t find her family because she lost her phone with all her contacts, and wound up in a refugee camp in Uganda. There she was exploited by a man who was in charge of food in the camp. He told her if she did not sleep with him everyday her baby would not come out at the time of birth. She believed him and he left her pregnant with a second child.
She was found and returned to Rwanda before the genocide broke out only to find her entire family already slaughtered. So she went back to find relatives in Uganda, gave her kids to her mom, and went to Kenya to work as a house-girl (maid). She made a small fortune, started a bar and restaurant, and lost her business because she fed every poor person who came to the kitchen to beg food or borrow money. She went to school three years total in her life, she was not a business woman. She was from a rich family, their wealth cost them their lives, her poverty saved hers. God used her suffering to save her from a genocide where 1,000,000 were killed. That is Chantel’s testimony, she found God in the midst of this story.
We love Chantel, we have been feeding her and her kids, enjoying her constant jokes, boisterous praise, and fervent prayers for years. We got a sponsor for her, a dear friend in Indiana, and tried to teach her to sew. She is terrible at sewing. She walks super slow.
Chantel is a beautiful lover of Jesus and therefore our sister, so we are together. We have little hope in this lifetime Chantel will land on anyone’s ROI success story chart, especially ours. I think that is why Jesus said “lay up your treasure in heaven” because that is where taking care of widows and orphans, the naked, the thirsty and hungry, and the sick and imprisoned, pays off.
So are we together? Arm in arm?
If so, consider signing up to give monthly to help us, and if you already have already, can you ask a friend or your church to join you? We need 40 friends to sign up for $25 a month or more to meet our current expenses not covered by incredibly faithful monthly donors.
Our biggest donor has to stop helping us pay school fees in two months. We have four little girls who need schooling, school is prostitution HIV prevention for girls. $125 a month per girl. They are all kids of HIV+ women or AIDS orphans.
We need 8 sewing machines at $125 each to set up our new sewing school and workshop.
Thanks and God bless you,
“The worship that God wants is this: caring for orphans or widows who need help and keeping yourself free from the world’s evil influence. This is the kind of worship that God accepts as pure and good.” – James 1:27