She wanted to give something to you

June 18, 2000 by Steve Peifer

It has been a tough week at RVA.

The father of one of the seniors died on Friday. A death of a parent is always so brutal; to have it happen a few days before Father’s Day and a few weeks before graduation is almost too much to bear; there is a real sadness on the campus, and a real fear. If you are a boarding student, your greatest fear is something will happen to your parents. It came true, and the counseling staff is working overtime.

Kenya is in such a hard place. The headmaster of every neighboring school have come to us and reported that they are out of food. Some of the students are fainting during the day because they are weak from hunger. The rains have not come, and the gardens have not produced, and the desperation grows. Even the grocery stores in Nairobi are putting limits on how much maize and beans you may purchase.

Electricity is now shut off twelve hours a day in Kenya. Many people get their water through an electric pump, and without power, they cannot get water half the day. The power system here is water generated; without water, there is no power. Imagine running a business with no power half the day.

With all that is happening here, the spirits of the people continue to move me. In the hospital this morning, I gave a beautiful homemade doll that was sent to us to a little girl without fingers, a cast on one leg, and some kind of eye condition. You have never seen a face light up like hers did, and for the hour we were there, she carried it everywhere.

When I was leaving, she came over to me and I assumed she was going to give me a hug. But she brought me her dolly. When I asked her momma about it, she said `She just wanted to give something to you, and that is all she had.’

I persuaded her to keep the doll, but she epitomizes Africa to me:  People with so little who try to share all they have.