The vulnerable in society remain hidden
Sometimes you have a moment when you meet someone. And that person makes you stop and reflect. I mean REALLY reflect!
This morning I met Kato …… and I’ve been thinking about him and his family all day.
Tonight it occurred to me, in a bit of an ‘aha’ moment, that generally speaking, the vulnerable in society remain hidden
Even if your mission is to specifically find and help the most vulnerable, as is ours, the vulnerable still remain hidden. Hidden because their family doesn’t know how to access services. Hidden because they’ve tried to access services, but been defeated. Hidden because a disability makes it hard for them to be mobile. Hidden because those in charge of providing or referring them to services choose not to. Hidden because they are ashamed. Hidden because they hate to be a burden on others. Hidden because they hide their vulnerability well. Hidden because those around them don’t know how to deal with them.
Kato is our neighbour. I didn’t know he was our neighour. Some of my staff didn’t know he was our neighbour. They have never met him before (unusual in a rural setting such as ours). Government officers did know about him, but didn’t refer the family to us for educational or medical assistance. Amari staff didn’t come across him in earlier years when we were visiting homes to see which children we should be/could be registering for our sponsorship program. Harriet his sister is not in school as she needs to care for Kato.
His vulnerability has kept him hidden. His sister, by extension, is also hidden.
So now he is known to me. He is not hidden. And what am I going to do about it?
We could decide, with his disability and his older age, that he would be too much for us to take on educationally. Or we could choose to remember our core mission, take a chance on him and leave the outcome to God.
So, after consultation with staff, we have agreed we will be taking both Kato and his sister Harriet into our school and sponsorship program. Harriet will continue to be responsible for his care, but she too will get the chance to continue with some basic education.
Kato’s family may be struggling economically, but I have a deep respect for them. They might be vulnerable due to poverty and physical disabilities, but they are resilient. They have not abandoned Kato. They love him. Kato’s father obviously loves his children, and in a society that is polygamous, he has one wife. His first wife died. Kato’s twin died. Kato’s 12-year-old sister Harriet is no longer in school and faithfully cares for her brother while their mother is working in their garden, some kilometres away. And when they visited our offices today, Kato’s father did not come begging for medical assistance. He came to see if his children could access our educational services.
I COULD beat myself because we overlooked the family in earlier years. I could get annoyed at my some of my staff who DID know of him but didn’t think to bring him to my attention. I could get narky at those in government who know of our services but rarely bother referring anyone to us. I could rail against God for all the inequities in this world. I could feel guilty that I am classed amongst the ‘haves’ rather than the ‘have nots’. (Well, except for my figure, which definitely falls in the ‘have not’ category!!)
Or I could choose to see it from a different perspective. Meeting Kato and his family this morning was an enriching experience, and I am in awe of them. If Kato had been bought to my attention some years ago, I would probably have had to say no as we were only getting established. And I have again been reminded what treasures my staff are – they didn’t even blink when I queried if they could handle having Kato and Harriet in their classroom. And who assured me that of course they could help if needed for toilet trips. (Whilst looking at me like as if, ‘Why, madam, are you even asking that??!’)
So. We’re going to invite this family to be part of our school community. We’re going to give the children a chance to be educated. We’re going to partner with the parents. And we are going to learn from them, and be blessed by them.
If you are interested in helping with the sponsorship of Kato and Harriet, could you please contact us. As she needs to stay with Kato to help care for him, Harriet will be in Nursery class, but staff will extend her once they gauge her current level.