Our guest post today is from Kate Irwin, one of Grace Centre’s long term volunteers from Australia. Kate has been volunteering with Grace since 2009 and is a valuable team member, mentor to many, and a close friend of mine. Her reflections on her daily life and the challenges she faces, are beautiful, insightful and encouraging. Enjoy!
“Life… I have spent the last 2 days teaching at the cottage school we run for the kids of some of the missionaries in our area. This means that I am out and about walking earlier than usual. I wish I could capture the sights, sounds and smells of my short walk from home to the school building. I walk up, what is now, a cobble stoned road past all the local shops – small stalls on the road side selling bananas, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, used plastic bottles, small sweet treats like lollypops – past the ladies sitting on the side of the road selling sugar cane and grass and charcoal used in the coffee ceremonies, past the men waiting, hoping to be chosen for day labour so they will earn enough to eat for the day, past the children the lucky ones going to school the less fortunate ones often just sitting, past the man who fixes shoes, past the bread shop which is smaller than the size of a car. The road is filled with people walking, a few riding bikes, some cars, tuktuks, taxi buses, horses and carts, animals wandering. The air is filled with the noise of the mornings and so many smells – the animals, the people, the food, the dust that fills everything right now, the smell of Ethiopia. The morning feels so alive and vibrant, the colours of the day seem more intense – the sky is very blue, the red earth is rich in colour – and the air is crisp as the heat of the day is yet to arrive. It is a very beautiful time to walk through this special place to which God has called me.
Reflections… I am often struck by the fragility of life; it seems to take but an instant for things to go from good to bad, life to death, health to sickness. I don’t suppose that this fragility is any different here than elsewhere but I seem to be so much more conscious of it here. I walk down the street and see people for whom just a little help would turn their life around, I can look at some people who were unwilling to grasp the little help offered and see their lives go from bad to worse and then there are those offered help but it seems too little too late. It is hard on the heart sometimes… it can be hard to get up again and risk trying to help because your heart can be filled with the what ifs that come… what if this person dies too? What if this person betrays us? What if this person doesn’t choose life and improvement? The thing is, all those what ifs are about me… what if I get hurt… but there are times when it shouldn’t be about me. The real questions I should be asking are what if we can help? What if we can find family? What if we can help this person live? What impact might this person and the life they go on to live make to this world if only I am willing to take the risk?
What’s new in Grace…
Oklahoma and a couple from Australia with us. This productive bunch did more in a week than we could achieve in a month. The volunteers blessed the kids at our children’s home by constructing fences, railings, gates, washing lines, swing set and putting down vinyl flooring in some of the more heavy duty areas.
Our kids are so much safer and are enjoying their new play areas. In addition, they loved on the kids who were delighted to have so many new faces with whom to play and make friends. The volunteers also helped out in the small business program, in the office, in the day care centres and equipping our staff, not to mention the aid they brought and the laughs, joy and new friendships which blessed the full time volunteers as well. Volunteers are such a blessing and they bring with them so many much needed skills! Thanks guys!!!
We have been excited to see so many of the Grace kids do so well in their most recent exams. I am always amazed by the children and their abilities. I often wonder what opportunities they would have in life if it weren’t for Grace, so many bright, talented, motivated kids who would not have the opportunity to be educated. Thanks for helping us equip the future leaders of Ethiopia!
We have finances for the month and are looking at constructing the roof on our buildings on Grace Land. This will allow us to move another day care centre to the land. We are excited about this opportunity.
Thanks for sharing the journey. Kate”