This has been a hard month. So much change, so many valleys, so many peaks. The emotions have run me dry and filled me up, day in and day out. Besides beginning my PhD program, the heaviest thing on my heart has been the children, my friends, and family, and I have been sending to school in Nyeri, Kenya.
Last week I found out one of the boys, the most recent member to our little family, Boni, decided to walk away. The circumstances around it are complicated because he is a bright kid, an orphan, an easy candidate for charity. And the truth is I don’t know what happened in Boni’s heart; all I know is he has challenged me to look deeper into why all of this matters. He has forced me to humble myself and re-evaluate the point of any of this. He broke my heart and fortified it all at once
Boni was extra special to me because when I decided to take Boni into our program, it was because I saw myself in his eyes. We were both someone who lost the person we loved the most; the person for as long as we could remember was the center of our existences. And when they left, we didn’t know where to turn, who to let in, where to go. Boni, like I, lost his advocate, his protector, his safe place when his mom died.
I was blessed when I lost my mom that I was surrounded by family -both blood and those that chose me. I was surrounded by people who offered me a safe place to land; a safe place to grieve and grow. I wanted to give this to Boni. He had been in a children’s home, which was unstable because of financial issues and the remoteness of the home. So I thought if I could offer him the structure of boarding school with his cousins and spending his breaks with his aunts who knew who he was, who his mom was, that he would be in a better position to grow into his greatest potential. Him and Halima (his surrogate aunt) talked about this at length, and his heart seemed so happy as he accepted the offer. You could see a lightness in his eyes.
So when he decided to walk away, I felt hurt and discouraged. I was hurt because I wanted so much to protect Boni. I wanted so much to give him steady hope. No I couldn’t promise him a life in Canada, or a mansion in Nairobi, but I could promise him someone who would always be in his corner, someone who believed that anything is possible if he worked for it, someone he could always call on to be there. I wanted to show him that he mattered; that someone in the world cared about what happened to him.
I was discouraged because being so far away from these kids most of the time, forces you to rely on faith that the investment that I am asking myself and those closest to me, to make in the lives of these kids, is worth it. It forces you to believe that people are good; that people are gracious. So when you put yourself out there, like I did, asking for the trust and support of my friends and family in loving this kid, it feels like you are letting them all down when it fails. It feels like asked them to gamble and lost all their money. And my biggest fear, in all of the world, in the deepest parts of my soul, is being a disappointment.
But as I sat with this, and drove across two countries, I was reminded that when I started this, I made a commitment to believing that humanity is worth the gamble. And I believe the people who have joined me in this adventure to offer these kids the opportunity to change their lives, believe the same thing. I know they believe in me, and in this cause. They understand the gamble and are willing to lose because even the smallest victories, like Derrick learning how to read for the first time at the age of 13, is worth any loss along the path. One life changed is worth all the valleys that it took to get to that peak; it is worth the possibility of being a disappointment.
And in the end, I would rather be able to say, I tried, than to say I was too scared to try; I would rather say, I walked by faith, than I let my fear of failure win. I do believe Boni was worth the gamble, just like every other kid we send to school. When I hear from their teachers or talk to the kids, I can see the change that has been made possible through this little program. Our impact with this program may be small, a tiny tiny dot on the issues of a fallen world, but it matters. It matters to these kids, it matters to the community they come from, and it matters to humanity. By supporting these kids we are saying to the world that we believe all lives are equal and we all have a role to play in using our blessings to bless others. We are standing firm in the face of a world of heartache to announce that we believe love always wins.
If you would like to help us with the fees for next year, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also I am hoping to start a charity to capture all of this fundraising, so if you would like to be a part of that, please let me know.