I am a product of many people in our village where I grew up. In our culture people belong to each other. We are a community in so many ways. The term “Yours is Ours” is very common in our culture. Last week I drove to my village to spend the weekend with my mother because she had not been feeling well. I remember a group of friends and relatives from the village came to the car and about 6 of them raised a complaint to me saying “Mr Cornel we have never rode in this “OUR” car,” so I had to give all of them a ride in” THEIR” car. If I did not do so, I would be viewed differently, and that means I would not receive help from them in future. That would be very dangerous for me, because in our culture you need others for your survival in so many ways. One man does not have it all. I only have the CFA car, but I still need their wheelbarrow and labor to rush my mother to the hospital in case of emergency while I am not around. Furthermore, the car cannot make it to the door step because of the bad road, therefore a wheelbarrow must be used either way, and some people must be pushing it.
With that background, I want to translate it to me working for CFA in my home town. First of all, it is a blessing to work with CFA because it is the place God had been preparing me for since my teen age.
I grew up in a culture where saving has a different concept than what many of us may think of. For example, parents who were able to educate their children did so so that they would support them when they are old (maybe from mid 40s). They may also educate the first born so that he will educate the last ones. I may call it “We are helping you today so that you will help us and others in future”. This is exactly my background. During the days I was still in school, a number of people contributed towards my education because my parents were not capable. One person bought me a book, the other paid for my school fee, still others bought me a pen, others gave me food when I was hungry, and many many other support. Today all these are haunting me back. They expect me to reciprocate.
It is very unfortunate that a lot of people who supported me are dead, and mostly because of AIDS. Most of their families are left in dire need. The question I ask my self is, “Do i support them from my savings? What will be the future of my children?” Let me bring it to you more closer. My younger sister was recently sent out of school because of school fees, and at the same time my younger brother was critically sick in the hospital. The money at my disposal was my savings. I was left to juggle between saving a life, a situation or the future of my children. God is good and the situation is behind me, but I foresee more to come.
I am striving to be a good leader at home, in church, at work, in the community and to my children. I do not want to offend anyone of them and I do not want to destroy the bridge after crossing it. It is a common situation with many of us who were born from this kind of background. We also call it “One man working, many mouths eating.” It is true, if i was to count all who depend on my salary either directly or indirectly the list is endless.
Now that I am working close to home, these scenes recur almost on a daily basis. These are the challenges we meet while working with our communities. It is a life behind the curtain of my leadership. It is the reason why I may do somethings differently. But I still thank God that I am working and I have been able to change some few lives. I also thank God for people who pay for my salary because it has been able to sustain me and my network.
Many thanks to Cornel for helping us in America to understand the unique challenges and pressures of living and working in Kenya. Please join in praying for Cornel and his family, as well as the families of all our staff in Kenya! Feel free to leave a comment or prayer for Cornel below if you’d like.