One year ago today, my fellow team mates and I, boarded a plane bound for southern Africa. As soon as I stepped off the plane back in Canada, I began to dream of my return to the continent. I now have tentative plans to go with my wife Cathy to Kenya in the spring of 2012. Therein lies a tale.
Through a circuitous connection to my trip, Cathy had the opportunity to go to Kenya the summer after my return. The main purpose of her visit was to join a team of people as they helped a Nairobi church put on a one week program for children, a children’s day camp. Almost as an afterthought, she had also arranged to travel to western Kenya to visit a young woman she’d been corresponding with by e-mail, on and off for about a year. (She also went to Zambia to meet with people I had met, to see if living life in Zambia was in the cards for us. It isn’t.)
Cathy and the young woman, Edina, connected immediately. Cathy stayed with Edina for 10 days, living in her home – with the 39 orphans and street children she had taken in! Cathy returned home convicted with a need to support Edina.
With the experience of Africa fresh in my memory, I found myself easily swept up in her passion to partner with Edina. Since last August, many things have happened that I think one could say was unexpected only 12 months ago: We immediately began telling people about Edina and ‘passing the hat’ to gather support for her. Then, as a result of one presentation, some like-minded friends suggested we begin the process of establishing a charity! That has meant hours of work for all of us as we go through the process of incorporating and applying for charity status, opening bank accounts, budgeting, building a web site, and now organizing our first major fundraising event. Our vision is to help many young women like Edina.
Through regular chat sessions and e-mail, we are in almost daily contact with Edina. We’ve lived through her pain and surgeries after a motor accident; her excitement as 150 chicks – a project for supplying their own food and selling eggs to make money – were delivered; her anxious preparations for back-to-school; helping to build up a formal organization around her operations in Kenya; and so many other challenges of daily life half a world away.
So in 2012, when Cathy is on a planned leave from work, we will visit Edina, not just as friends, but as representatives of an NGO that is partnering with her. (That feels odd just saying it!) I’m not quite counting the days, but I’m excited at the prospect.
So, this year has been a bit of a whirlwind. Like Dorothy, I feel like I’ve been picked up, spun around and dropped in a wonderful new world pointed in a new direction – to Africa. In the past 12 months
- I have become involved in the daily life of a woman in Kenya
- I am helping to establish an NGO
- I have begun reading whatever I can on international development, especially with reference to Africa. I don’t have much time to read, so the library is still small, but the collection is growing.
- I have taken on the role of blogmaster for our church’s Africa blog as part of my advocacy commitment.
What a year! I wonder what the next 12 months have in store? I’m learning not to make predictions.