INVITATIONS NOT TO MISS - Directors Corner February
‘Who is that sitting outside my office, she has been there for half an hour,’ I asked Margie. With no answer on offer, I suggested that Margie herself go and fix her up. Then I was suddenly aware of the poor state I was in, if I had retreated that far from the mob that is often pressing around with an endless litany of needs to be addressed. What else am I here for? Get over yourself Frank.
Empowered, I strode off in the direction of the office and greeted her and on shaking hands asked if I could help? ‘I am Mama Whitney and look what I have brought for you Br. Frank,” she proudly said as she pulled out a big bag of green cooking bananas or plantain. Mama Whitney had just returned from visiting her only daughter in Secondary school and she had made use of the rural visit to lug back a heap of plantain. ‘How else can I say thank you for all you have done for my daughter Whitney,” she says. “She is in Secondary school and only because she got a scholarship, and I am so so happy,” she adds.
I was totally brought down to earth by this sudden and delightful moment.
Every year we try to find sponsors for some of our brightest Grade 8 students and in partnership with parents, whose task is to find a school, enroll and pay for uniform, transport and books, we get them to school.
WHITNEY RECEIVING A CHEQUE FOR SCHOOL FEES
A willing sponsor pays $ US 450 a year and bingo, education, board, and a future are all of a sudden on the cards. Investing in human resources, I believe is true development yet it is so difficult to get people to step up and help and something totally frowned upon by donor organizations that fear a string of possible negatives is about to be unleashed on some poor unsuspecting child.
Last year we had 24 Sponsored students completed their secondary education with good grades and a hope for a future. 13 students attained a grade sufficient to go to university and although not all will have the resources to do that, but these graduates are still way ahead of the pack of their peers. A recent figure from the Kenyan Catholic Commission for justice and peace put the figure of unemployed youth at 12.5 million. A national disgrace and a hopeless social drama about to consume both the youth and the country’s future if no action is taken towards addressing this issue.
I called for a camera and led Mama to meet Margie our PR person and someone who had done some of the legwork in pulling off this wee miracle of education about a month ago.
Reflecting on today’s gospel and Jesus very own frustration with his generation that needed a sign beyond what was in their face, I suddenly knew a my God had emboldened me to open my eyes and meet the Mama waiting out side my office. God alone knew how much I needed that sign of true gratitude and appreciation and I saw just how often my fear prevents me from seeing the signs.
I gave some away and on bringing the back home; I recalled my Tongan days of eating plantain and vowed to buy coconut juice to do this gift justice by cooking it just right. I saw this plantain to be more than food for the stomach, and even more than a sign. Mama Whitney’s gift and her gratitude were real food for my soul. No longer a sign but Eucharist relived and mine to receive. Thomas Aquinas was right;”Whatever is received is received according to the nature of the recipient.”
I pray, let grace give me eyes that see and ears that hear more often the blessings of life that abound close to home.
By :Br. Frank O'Shea
Director Ruben Centre