Thursday, November 22, 2007
Unfortunately Kenya does not celebrate Thanksgiving Day, like in the States, and so I had to work, as if it were any other Thursday. As I came into the St. Julie Centre I wished all of the Kenyan staff members a, “Happy Thanksgiving!” To which they replied, “What?!?” When I greeted some of the American Sisters of Notre Dame in the same way, they replied, “Oh yeah!, Is that today?” Many of them have been in Kenya for so many years that they don’t even think about it anymore. And so it seemed that I would have to celebrate on my own..
That evening, I gave thanks and ate my fill of all the sukuma wiki (kale) and rice I had in my kitchen, but ironically St. Teresa Parish grounds are always full of animals that would be perfect for any Thanksgiving feast. Everyday, my backyard is literally filled with cows, goats, sheep, pigs, ducks, chickens, and of course, two very fat turkeys. And so as I sat and ate my greens and rice I couldn’t help but think of what I could be eating had I been better prepared.
One story of thanksgiving that came to mind was that of Marcelline, one of my volunteers at the Centre. As the year is quickly coming to an end it has been my job, as Volunteer Supervisor, to evaluate each of the volunteers on their performance and then allow them to give us any feedback regarding the programme. As I worked my way through the volunteers, evaluating one after another, some of them seemed to lose sight of what it meant to be a volunteer. One volunteer, after I had given her a good evaluation asked, “Now why can’t you pay me?” But it was when I came to evaluate Marcelline, truly one of my best volunteers, that I was pleasantly surprised. I told her that she comes to work on time and always does her job well. I told her that she really seems to enjoy helping the disabled children because she always works with a smile. I thanked her for her year of volunteer service and asked if she had anything to say. And all she said were these two words, “I’m grateful.”
And so on Thanksgiving I thought about Marcelline and the words that she said to me. I want to thank my family, friends, and all of those that have supported me back home. I want to thank all of those that are here with me in Kenya, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, my fellow volunteers, all of those at the St. Julie Centre for Disabled Children, and St. Teresa Parish.
“I’m truly grateful.”
Posted by tim at 11:55 PM