I have a friend here in Tanzania whose mother is a prostitute*. This is the reason he has been living on the streets for years, and missed out on his education, and cannot read. He just finds it too challenging to live with her.
I don’t know how my friend feels about the fact that his mother hasn’t taken better care of him. I just assume that whatever he feels, he’s not real happy about it.
Our brick business has provided him with a job and skills training, and on March 26th, he asked to take out his savings after six days of brick-making. Moses, director of Our Father’s House, asked him what for. “To celebrate Easter”, he said. Normally, Tanzanians celebrate Easter by buying new clothes and shoes, so Moses agreed.
A week or so later I was in Tarime with Mwita, a volunteer who knows these youth better than anyone else does. We ran into my friend, and their conversation went something like,
Mwita: What news of Easter? I heard you travelled.
My friend: Yeah, I travelled.
Mwita: You went to Nyamongo?
My friend: Yeah, I went to my mother.
Mwita: To celebrate Easter together?
My friend: Yeah. On Saturday, I got some white potatoes and cooking bananas at the bus stand and got a car to Nyamongo.
Mwita: O wow! She was happy?
My friend: Yeah, she was happy.
Mwita: So you ate Easter with her? (This is a common Swahili expression, just means “enjoyed Easter…”)
My friend: Yeah, she cooked the potatoes and bananas and we ate Easter together.
Mwita: How long did you stay?
My friend: I returned to Tarime Monday morning.
I was thankful for the brick business, so that my friend could do this for his mother without stealing a phone or scrap metal. I was more thankful, though, for my friend’s heart. After all the trouble that he has had with his mother, he still loves her. It reminded me of another story, one that starts with “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…”
* I don’t know his mother’s story, and I’m not wanting to paint her as black-hearted here. It’s an awful fact of life in Tanzania that many (at least 1 out of 50) females find themselves being forced into prostitute-type behavior from a young age. Some of you may have heard this story, but in posting it on social media, I wanted to keep his name out of it. That is why I simply refer to him as my friend.