I met Samuel last Thursday. He is a silly, bumbling old man. He didn’t speak much English, but he tried, mostly repeating “thank you, thank you, thank you” over and over again (I’ll write more about the outpouring of gratitude later). To that point, I had held back in my communication with my new Kenyan friends, speaking slowly and carefully, assuming the language barrier was too great. But with Samuel, I decided to go for it, embrace the awkwardness and see where it went. His dark, weathered skin told me he had a story to tell.
I asked about his life and his family. He’s 51 years old and a farmer – 1 cow, 1 goat, 3 chickens. 7 children. 1 wife, named Mary. He says “She’s the best. She does everything for me.”
Mary wasn’t there that day, because she was likely out collecting water. Samuel told me (at this point, with the help of WVKenya staff translating), Mary walks 5K – one way – to find water, and because of their needs, she makes that walk 3 times a day.
— Stop here. She’s walks 30 kilometers A DAY. That’s 18 miles, friends. Every day. Let’s assume that she walks 3 mph (which is generous considering she’s carrying 44 lbs of water for half of those miles). 3mph, 18 miles = 6 hours a day walking for water. —
On top of that, Mary works daily to find food for her family of 9 and to earn money… to buy alcohol for Samuel… to wash away his pain and escape his reality. My Kenyan colleague Ronald asked “Can’t you smell it on him?”
Heaven help us.
Imagine what Mary could do with those 6 hours if she didn’t have to walk for water.
I didn’t meet Mary, but she has affected me deeply. I am and will carry her in my heart, and it’s heavy. She exists somewhere… right now…in Western Kenya and she endures. And she inspires me to do the same.
I ran with my friend, Julie this morning. I’m SO thankful for her. She hasn’t been to Africa, but she shares my vision and passion. She gives me hope, inspires me, pushes my limits, points me to Jesus, and helps me to carry the weight of all this. She eagerly listened to me share this morning and then shared her big plans for 2016, encouraging me all the more. She gave me hope and reminded me that we, together, as a community here in the US and in Kenya, guided by the spirit of Jesus, can and will heal the hurts of this world.