On the Frontline
We know an elderly widow in her 80’s; lets call her Catherine. She had seven children but all passed away from suspected HIV. Many of her grandchildren have either passed away too, or live far off, not wanting to return to the place where they experienced so much loss. So she lives near Kisumu, Kenya with her remaining, orphaned, teenage granddaughter who we will call Rachel. Their home is around 4×4 metres and made of mud and yet Catherine and her granddaughter Rachel have managed to make it so welcoming – hanging free posters and bits of torn clothing on the walls for decoration.
Catherine cannot walk – her legs have become too stiff and her sight isn’t good. She hasn’t left the house in years. Rachel is still in school but she can’t afford the fees. Her teachers take pity on her and let her sit in on the lessons but she won’t be allowed to take the exams. When Rachel gets home in the evenings it’s her job to take care of the kitchen garden, cook, bathe and dress Catherine, clean the house, try and find some small work to make money and then study in whatever time she has left. Obviously this is not sustainable for a young girl and Catherine and Rachel regularly go five or six days without food. Their front door has been broken into many times, and now doesn’t even shut. This makes them very vulnerable after it gets dark.
We’ve been working with this wonderful family during our ‘Frontline’ time – which is simply time spent together with families in the communities, giving them our support and attention. When we first found Catherine she was naked on the floor of her home, unable to move, just skin and bones and lying in her own waste. Rachel is incredible – responsible, loving and so hard working. But the burden of the home and Catherine was far more than she could cope with.
Our team have been visiting twice a week since then, supplying food parcels, helping on their patch of land, monitoring Catherine when she is sick, assisting Rachel with school fees, cleaning the house when Rachel is exhausted and building a stronger front door with a strong lock. Catherine sings with joy when she sees us coming and says our visits are the highlight of her week. She loves to pray with us and tell us how faithful God has been to her despite the obstacles she’s faced. Although we have helped with practical things, Catherine tells us the biggest change has come about through the time we’ve given her and Rachel and the love and care we have shown them. And that is exactly what Frontline is all about; going out in love – it’s the basis of community.