Alain is a young Congolese man. He was student of mine at one of the universities in Goma. But he also became a friend, who continued visiting the SHONA women, long after I left, and in fact helped take pictures for SHONA, and translated for our visitors on occasion. In August, he came to the United States to study and this was his his first visit to NY.
While he was here, we called the SHONA ladies, who were clearly overjoyed to hear his voice, and fascinated by the fact that Alain and I were together, half-way across the world, speaking Swahili, and thinking of Congo. All of us, throughout our lives, carry those we love with us. We all have "homes" that sometimes seem very far away. But we also have the joy, on occasion, of seeing our lives come together in surprising ways. Of building bridges between people that we love, and occasionally glimpsing a world where we are all together. It's great to have visitors from other parts of our lives, and it is great to see the ways that our lives still come together in the midst of it all.
Here is a blog entry that he wrote about his visit...
I am in New York since last night. I am staying in the Shona Congo, New York base for a few days. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to be able to experience Shona from the United States after living it in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In fact, I know Shona since very long, since I was in the Congo. Mapendo, Roy, Riziki, Argentine and the rest of the team are like my brother and sisters. They are wonderful people with so much courage and strength notwithstanding adversities. I have worked with them as translator, photographer and have had some fun time with them.
I am so happy for the impact Shona has had in the lives of these brothers and sisters of mine. They are really blessed to have learned craftswork for their lives would have been so different otherwise. In my country, handicapped people are usually neglected by society and even by their own family. They do not have access to education and therefore not to employment. The result is that handicapped people end up begging in the streets.
All my passion about collaborating with Shona is from my joy to see how these people have had a chance to live better, to help their families, to have access to basic education and to pay for school for their relatives. I have been telling people in Congo about Shona and how they can help it grow and in that way help the Shona team in their effort to live from the work of their hands.
I came to the United States five months ago for College. I have been meeting people who are interested in my country and in Africa. They want to know how life looks like, what is going on out there these days and so on. To those who have asked me if there was a way to help with little means, among the so many possibilities I know of, Shona Congo is where I direct most of them because I have been on the Congo side of the fence and I can testify of the impact of any purchase anyone does on Shona's online store or any donation they do.
Have you ever made any impact in some one's life?