My heart is always wondering about how to reach the 30M young people who live on or below the poverty line. We have many programs for the middle and upper class that are charged to meet their costs yet most of the mind shifting work is needed in the lower income areas.
These areas have larger numbers of people and deeper levels of social frustration and economic challenges. They also need more examples of people full of inspiration and strength just like anyone in the world. Life is harder for them because it is rougher. They are oriented to see that others should have mercy on them because they are from the informal sector yet no one really cares.
Over the years and especially in the last six months, I have had conversations with a variety of people including my former nannies, housekeepers, associates, boda riders, security guards among others that fascinated me. They tell stories of lack of access and reveal very limited thought patterns born of their environments. When I listen to political debates and remember my days on the campaign trail in 2017, it is evident that marginalised groups of people are more easily duped when people come and offer monetary help. The women we spoke to in the informal settlements just wanted education and job opportunities, their children wanted the same as a way out of their situations but very few people actually offered these solutions.
As I think about it, I realise that real and lasting change came to my life when my mindset changed yet I have always had a very open mind. If that is my reality, how much more mind opening do we need to do? I remember the young men on the campaign trail making sure they got money from every candidate possible because that would be food for their people. Conversations about work always ended up around lack of skills and opportunities because they had no experience. These conversations keep coming back and I have to ask myself am I ready to take my place and change my corner of the world?
Over the years I have wondered what I have to give the world and what value do I have to share.
It has always been around my skill but that isn’t enough anymore. I want to share the knowledge I have gleaned but at times I don’t even know what I have. I have planning gifts, I have words, I have a creative mind, I have mischief, I know how to live and shop on a budget, I know how to be frugal and low priced, I know how to laugh, to bake, to cook, to meal prep but I didn’t always know how to translate that to real life lessons till recently.
I used to dream and create things in my mind but a few years ago as I was getting my faith sorted out (haha…that sound like a surgical procedure) I began wondering about the ability or permission to have dreams. This was because I realised that until then, my dreams were mine and I had just dressed them in a garment called God but it actually wasn’t His or Him at work in me. I haven’t been able to find comfort to dream again but now I am can’t stop wondering if my fear of past mistakes of leaving God aside is holding me back.
Are the fears holding me back therefore stalling those awaiting my rising?
I am looking back and realising that I have to rise and start with the instructions God has given. Very often we feel that we have to be doing really well to change our world but that isn’t really true. I have spent a few hours every week with a group of ten young men. The idea behind this was to teach them about career choices but it became so much more. We had intense discussions about life mapping, gifts and passions. I watched as the group interrogated different challenges and found answers among themselves followed by smiles and light bulb moments.
I have slowed down movement in my life because I need to be sure that I am not outside God’s will for me or moving ahead of Him. I must admit I have developed a deep fear of going ahead of Him because I know what happens. It is clear that every situation I have been in and every lesson I have learnt is useful to my generations. This couldn’t be any clearer when several of the young men shared how the madness of my life and the experiences shared encouraged them to dream and do more with their lives. The conversations blew their assumptions apart and shock them because it put forward a demand to really do life and desire to change their hood.
We all came face to face with limiting thoughts we had and began the journey to challenging and changing. We faced our fears and voiced our challenges looking for ways out. This class combined with the rest of their course work has given ten young men an important paradigm shift and a way to become stronger, more confident and better people. This is what life has to be about…changing lives.
There is an urgency in my heart so I am off to do what I can with what I have.
Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to [a]ask alms from those who entered the temple; 3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. 4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” 5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” 7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God. 10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Acts 3:1-9