Tuesday, October 21, 2008

An act of resistance

At a time when Zimbabwe is in the news, there is also the true story...
Below is something I received this morning.
God bless,
Sr Janet

The genuine poor do not mob you and try to twist your arm. They come up to you very quietly, shyly, embarrassed that they have to bother you, as those three women did who stopped me after the evening service on Monday night, “Father, we have not eaten anything last night. We went to the (black) market, but we came back with nothing. Those prices! We just did not have the money…….”
These were not the usual destitutes, e.g. old widows with orphaned grandchildren to look after who are on our list of needy people and get regular hand-outs of mealie meal, beans and cooking oil.
These were people who are normally self-supporting, even moderately prosperous by Mbare standards.
Afonso is an old Mozambican whose wife has died long ago and whose children too have either died or have vanished somewhere looking for work. He is left with eight orphaned grandchildren. What we give him is eaten by that hungry crowd in a few days, and he asks for more.
Normally he is a very cheerful, humorous old gentleman with a friendly smile, full of little jokes and laughter.
When I shake his hand I am aware that that paw in his day inflicted a lot of damage on anyone foolish enough to argue with him. Afonso is a retired boxer. He used to be known, and feared, as “Tar Baby”. Now he could not hurt a fly.
But today his smile is gone. Those grandchildren and their hungry bellies are a really worry him.

Oskar Wermter SJ