I met this morning with Roy and his beautiful little girl. They were on their way to testify at a hearing for the man that attacked her. I admire this little girl and her father in their determination to see justice done. Justice requires money here in Congo, perhaps everywhere, but certainly here.
So what can be done for Roy and his family? I have decided to add Roy as the fifth craftsperson with SHONA. He is a man. And so far, I have worked exclusively with women. I believe that handicapped women need to be empowered here in Congo, and when they are put in groups with men, they tend to take the lower position.
But I also believe that Roy's daughters and wife will continue to remain extremely vulnerable as long as he has no means of supporting them. And it seems such an incredible waste for such a talented man to lack work. So Roy will be our fifth handicapped craftsperson. He will rent his own small shop, and work independently from the women.
So we expand in a way that I hadn't planned. But it fits well with the stage that the women are at. The women too are renting their own space and opening their own shops. They have chosen to work in teams of two. It is an exciting stage. As they rent their own workspace and begin to set up shop, the work becomes theirs. And this in the end is the goal.
Roy often says "I'm already getting old and I have nothing to show for it. Nothing to give my children." Hopefully SHONA will allow him to start to build a life, for himself and for his family. Mapendo, our youngest member, recently began building a house for her elderly mother, who has been living in a refugee camp. There is something beautiful in a nineteen year old handicapped woman building her mother a house. There is something equally beautiful in a 40 year old father building his little girl a house. I think the heaviest weight of poverty, is not the price it exacts on us, but the price it exacts on those we love.
For Roy, the price has been heavy. I watched this man leave my house with his daughter in tow, and imagined how hard it must be for both of them to testify. But Roy walks with a lighter step now. He is eager to take on as much work as I can give him, to finish his debts and begin building a life. His little girl has tested negative on all sexually transmitted diseases, she is back in school, and next month Roy will have sewn enough to pay her school fees.
I am always amazed by the small scale of hope. Given the incredible difficulties Roy has faced in the past two weeks, I might expect him to need so much more. But his wife and child are home from the hospital, his little girl is doing ok, and he will be able to take care of them. That is all the hope he needed.