I have many drafts in my archive, of blog posts I have started on but not finished. Time is not enough, and often the words do not flow as easily. But there is a lot I want to update you on, especially for those of you who do not follow us on Facebook and Instagram. About the container, distribution of football shoes, stories from our neighborhood and much more…
But today I need to write about what is on my heart, the thing which occupies my thoughts and mind these days.
And that is thoughts of my good friend Wasi and her children. Thoughts of love. Faithfulness. Real friendship. Focus on the future and hope in the midst of sorrow and hopelessness. Love that looks like something.
I want to tell you about my friend’s story. I do this with her blessing. Intending to share one of the most powerful stories I know of how God can transform a life and lift someone up from hopelessness and suffering, and bring comfort and hope in the most difficult circumstances. And also to ask for help, which I will come back to later. If you think this is too long to read, then you can scroll to the bottom of the post, where I give a quick summary of what we plan on doing, and how you can help.
Wasi was born into a poor family, where she grew up being a sickly child, and bled a lot of nosebleeds. The traditional treatment for this is to give them tobacco to stop the bleeding. Wasi thus became accustomed to using chewing tobacco several times a week since she was 6-7 years old. Like most others in her generation, her parents saw no need for her to go to school, and when she was 15 years old, she was married off to a 30 year older Muslim man. He had gone through his difficulties when he was young, they had children quickly, and today they have 7 children aged 19-2 years old. The youngest child Samuel turns three years old next month.
Although it is not uncommon to be illiterate here, you are looked down upon and considered at the bottom of society. Even on decisions about your own life, you will not be consulted. You will be seen and not heard. Even if your husband drinks away all the household money on alcohol, you will be beaten if you try to say something. This was the marriage and life Wasi had. Physical and mental abuse her entire life. Looked down upon and mocked by her neighbors and relatives.
When we came to Kilifi four years ago, Wasi was one of the first people we met when we first started meeting at the garbage dump. She came with a couple of neighbors who were the closest neighbors to the garbage dump. She was terribly thin and downcast. Depressed and full of stomach ulcers due to stress and worry. They had six children, but only two went to school because they had no money. Her husband was a fisherman, but spent the money on drugs. She told that she used to get up almost every day at 3 or 4 in the morning only to sit on a stool outside the house in the dark for a couple of hours and cry before the rest of the house woke up…
She quickly became a good friend, partly because our children were the same age and played well together. She became my biggest motivation for learning Swahili, because I wanted to be able to talk to her without an interpreter. Those around her were very surprised that I chose her, of all people, as a friend.
For the past four years, we have lived as neighbors and close friends. Connected hearts and family. Our children are best friends and are inseparable, and I love her children as my own, and she mine as her own. Our friendship is unique, and I think it’s so beautiful to see how we can demonstrate true love through action and truth through lived life and friendship. Demonstrate mutual respect and human dignity regardless of social status and gender. I so believe that through Wasi and her testimony and through the children who grow up with this as a role model, change will take place in the culture, and that we can see girls and women get the respect they deserve.
It is amazing to look back on how far she has come, and how God has taken her from hopelessness and depression to becoming a strong, happy and steady leader and friend in the society and in our mission work. She got the first job of her life with us, (her first paid job – being at home with seven children is a huge job!) and it was touching to see how much it meant to her self-worth and self-respect. Now she works as a housekeeper with us and she is also a Bible group leader, but I hope to be able to “upgrade” and hire her with a leadership role in our work soon. We have also made sure that all her children now go to school, and I have been very involved in homework help and even been a parent representative for two of her children, Zuhura and Sande, who have also lived with us for periods of times
One and a half weeks ago, her husband died suddenly, after two days in bed. He had been coughing for a long time, but refused to go to the doctor. When he finally became so ill that he went there, his kidneys and lungs were close to failing, and his trachea was full of sores. Over fifty years of various substance abuse had left their mark…
Wasi is now a widow, and there have been some intense days with her family since his death. Both to help the children cope with the death, with all the practicalities that collapse around them, to bring comfort and strength to Wasi who is being pushed very hard from all sides, and who now has even less authority and influence in his own life than ever before, according to her Islamic relatives. They live on the husbands family’s homestead, but she has no rights, and no papers for herself. She can be thrown out any day.
But the consolation is that they have a family that is not flesh and blood, who cares more about them than their biological family. And we will never fail them or leave them. We will now do what we can to help Wasi and her family in this new chapter of their life.
For the first time in her life, Wasi has the freedom to choose what kind of life she wants for herself and her children. She now has the opportunity to make choices that ensure that her children have better opportunities in life than what she herself was given. And it’s exciting to think about.
We now want to help Wasi find a place to stay near us. We want to buy a piece of land for her where she can live in peace with her seven children, continue to work and live with us, and where her own children can build and settle when they grow up. In addition, we hope to be able to afford to build her a house in brick, which is a more dignified home than the dilapidated mud house they now live in.
Since their fathers death, her four oldest children have lived with us, and since yesterday, Wasi and the three youngest have also moved here temporarily. To get peace and quiet to figure out their new life without pressure and ridicule from those around them. This means that there are 19 of us around the dining table every day, which is an awful lot… There is a lot of noise and commotion, but it’s going fine. There is a good atmosphere, and the children are having a great time. They love living together with their best friends.
Still, I feel very much the need to finish the guest section, so that all the extra people who live here can make their own meals in their own kitchen, at least partly, and we get a little more boundaries and quality time as a family, with our four children. The food budget is very high for 19 people, although we mostly eat only local food, with a lot of cornmeal, beans and vegetables. Nevertheless, we know that this is only for a period of time, and we are very happy to be able to help and go with Wasi and her family in this season of their lives.
Buying land and building a house for her is something we do not have the money for, but we really hope that God will provide for it. If we do not help her, what is the alternative…?
If there is anyone who feels that they want to help us ensure that Wasi and her children have a safe home and place to live for the future, then we will be very grateful!
Bank acc details:
Stig and Linda Ministries, Oppdalsbanken, O.Skasliens vei 15, 7340 Oppdal
Account: 4266.16.29619. Swift code: OPPDNO21. IBAN nr: NO1542661629619
Label with Wasi. Or if you do not label it, the amount can go to complete our guest section, so that we can to an even greater extent be a refuge for those who need it.
If you have questions, or want to know more, comment below, or send me an email.