Blind Faith

27 08 2011

by SHERRI KIRKPATRICK, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA

Peter, in many ways, is a typical little boy who loves school and studies hard. He enrolled in the Community of Christ school when it opened two years ago in Zambia. Nine years old and a second-grader at the Young Peacemakers Community School, Peter recently invited me to meet his grandmother, Erala.

As we approached the house, I noticed it was built with homemade adobe bricks and had a tin roof. When I stepped inside, the warm Bemba greeting of “Mwapoleni” welcomed me. I was invited to sit down.

I strained to see her features in the dimly lit humble home. The darkness made no difference to her, however, because she was blind and could enjoy sunlight only through its warmth.

And then the story began. Erala said her husband died eight years ago. About the same time her daughter and son-in-law died suddenly from causes unknown to her. She couldn’t travel to the funeral, so within a few days family members brought 1-year-old Peter and his older brother and sister to Erala.

When I commented that she was a brave and loving grandmother to take on such a big responsibility, she said, “I had no choice. They would have been street children if I had not taken them in.” Adding to the challenges, Erala became blind three years ago. The children now serve as her eyes, doing the things she cannot do.

I could have made a long list of challenges in that family’s everyday struggle to exist. Important things like food, shelter, and clothing.

But I watched Peter snuggle up to his grandmother on the well-worn little sofa. I saw his older brother, Michael, perch on the side of the sofa and put his arm protectively around his grandmother’s shoulders. And I knew love lived in that little home. Somehow the struggles of life seem much more endurable when loved ones surround you.

I doubt Erala suspected when she took the children that she someday would need them as much as they needed her. Many people calculate the return on investment, whether monetary or intangible, before they invest. Few invest with the blind faith that Erala did.

Though her dividends haven’t brought riches or even secured basic needs, she has earned something many long for but never get: a loving family.


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