June 10, 2012

Tonight I celebrate seven years of working with this particular program. So does Sister Veronica and Lucy. We three have been together through some hairy times and they determined that we’ll work another twenty years together. I complain that I will have no hair left by that time, the stress is too much, the fundraising so hard. With incredulous eyes, Vero says to me “don’t give up on faith, Tanya. You must keep the faith that has brought you here today – you hear me? We will do what we can together because it is not our work that we do, but God’s.”

I guess that is that, isn’t it?

June 11, 2012 –Mombasa, Kenya

I wake up to the sound of the call to worship from the mosque next door. It is quite loud at this time of the morning and I am irritated because I am tired and don’t want to wake up quite yet. Now that I am awake, though, I start to focus on the fact that I am sweating inside my mosquito net. I don’t dare take it off because I already am looking like corn on the cob and don’t want any more bites. I resort to tossing and turning and praying for daylight to appear quickly.

Soon, I am in the field with Lucy, visiting children and am hurting again. We visit a family with six children and a mom, who is not feeling well at all. They haven’t eaten since yesterday morning and they look wan and tired. I can’t stand it and make my way to the car and search through my bag for any food I have left. I find some boiled eggs which were meant to be my breakfast, as well as some protein shake a dear friend gave me before I left home. I am sure she won’t mind knowing that the shake is now in the hands of the mom, with instructions that she give it to Rama, the boy in our program, so he can drink it when he takes his medicine. I dig around some more and find a large can of powdered milk I had purchased for my family while we are in Zimbabwe. We find a tiny store, no more than a hut, and purchase maize, rice, beans, tomato paste, oil, and salt. We walk some more and find a woman selling one cabbage (we snag it), twelve bananas (we buy them), five onions (we add them to our stack), and one mango (we purchase it). With all this, we trot back to the hovel where the family lives and deposit our purchases. The little ones try to light up when they see the fruit but were too weak to do much about it. We peel eggs and banana and I see them feeling better. It is miraculous. In seconds, they are better. Amazing what a little food and hope can do.

We make our way to another house – this one has enough food for the family of three who lives there. What makes me so very happy is that I meet Benson once again. He was the first child introduced to ARVs in this program and we provided them for him long ago. Now, he receives school fees through us, as well as nutritional support when needed. Benson is a character and when we take a photo, he holds his thumb up, showing the world that he is ok. The truth is, he is doing just fine. Our work works!

He dreams of being a mechanic.

I return to the office where I meet again with Sister Veronica. We are dreaming big now. They must become a self-sustaining program and we have some ideas. We put our heads together and think, plot and plan. Just wait, world…one day soon, I’ll be writing about a program which became self-sustaining through the grit and determination of a nun, an amazing team of volunteers, social workers, guardians, and children. The story hasn’t ended here, not by a long run. I am hopeful today and know that even though I can’t see the end result now, at this very minute, it will be a good one.