I had driven through countless informal settlements before, but this one felt different, I felt uneasy, fearful…Lord, should I push through? Our little car continued further into the heart of the camp, over the deep rivets and trash down the narrow, dirt road, past the crammed wire & tin shacks. I finally made it to the shack where the Bokamoso kids were waiting. Breathe.
The kid’s eager faces greeted me, I stepped over a used condom wrapper and other sewage into the neatly organized and tidy home of our host. One of the single moms who helps volunteer and works daily with the Bokamoso children in that area. The children were ravishing lovely, sweet oranges. Their smiles brought joy.
I began to share the story of Esther, an orphan, born for a specific purpose. Did they know that God had made them for a purpose? Many hands showed that they had yet to hear about who God is. Our Creator…who made our beautiful earth…I wanted to point to green trees but all I could see was dirt…everywhere. I pointed around the group, He made all of you…the most beautiful of His creations. They giggled and sat in rapt attention as the stories continued.
It was soon time to go home, so one little boy around ten jumped into the car to help navigate me through the maze. How did he like living here I asked conversationally. “I struggle at night, I don’t like it here.” “Yes”, I answered knowingly, “The loud music must keep you awake every night?” “No, the gunshots do,” he replied matter-of-factly, “Someone dies every night here, I am always scared.” “What about the police?” I inquired. “They are too scared to come,” he responded. The air had held such a spirit of fear, now I realized why.
We reached the main road and he gleefully accepted my handful of sweets as thanks for his help; as he ran off back to the event, I drove home, back to the green, peaceful suburbs, a world away from those beautiful faces in that dark settlement. My heart ached, “Lord, there has to be more we can do to bring hope to these children, to give them the life You desired for them to live.” Help our faith arise so that we can bring that love and hope to each child.
One day. One step. One child at a time.