Recently I was in Zimbabwe visiting the Oasis staff there, and spending a couple of days checking out their incredible work. I had so many rich experiences getting to know their board members, staff, volunteers and program participants.
One of the highlights of the trips was meeting a 20-year young lady who is a graduate of their Tanaka Program. This program provides housing for former street girls, and provides them with education, job skills and a loving support system to help them stay off the streets in the future. When I heard the stories of abuse from her own family that forced her out on the streets, I wanted to throw up. She escaped to the city from a rural area, and was alone until Oasis gave her a community of people to come alongside and walk with her through recovering from a childhood that no one should every have to face.
As a father of 2 young boys I returned from my trip even more inspired to work harder for the important work Oasis is doing to help children like her recover from terrible childhoods. The most emotional moment for me was when the Oasis staff asked this young lady to recite a poem she had written about her journey. It was not full of bitterness and hate, but rather hope and reconciliation. The main line that stuck out to me and was repeated several times was “Life is journey not a destination.”
It’s pretty easy for me to repeat that line for myself from my relatively cush life. In fact I like to refer to my faith as a journey, not a destination, hopefully pushing me to be a life-long learner and not ever arriving. But her perspective takes this thought to a whole new level. My interpretation of what she is saying here is that the tragedy, despair and abuse she faced was part of the journey that brought her to this point. She is about to finish high school and then Oasis will help her with either job skills, or college admission. She is currently living with a foster family who is giving her a caring family environment.
Her journey is caring her forward. Hope. Reconciliation. Progress. I am so thankful for my new friends with Oasis in Zimbabwe and that our journeys are intersecting, and carrying each other forward.