At the age of eleven

“If you’re going through hell, keep on going.” Winston Churchill

As I wait in line at the border with the golden ticket in hand, I consider those who would give anything for a chance to be in my shoes. Simply walking over an imaginary line with a little blue passport booklet that says I am allowed to cross makes all the difference in this world.

Stepping on to a plane using a ticket that costs more than 3 years of income for many people, I can’t help but think about how blessed we are to live in the United States. I so often take for granted that I live in the land of opportunity.

What seems like a hard day to me may be a paradise for someone else. I am not tortured, I am not hungry, I am not sick. I am not fighting in a war. I sit in a newly air conditioned office and my challenges pale in comparison to those of other people right down the street. To keep my challenging days in perspective, I focus on the resilience of HALO youth. With perseverance as our monthly life skill, I immediately thought about this story.

I have shared a bit about Kennedy before. He and his siblings lost their parents at a very young age. Their grandmother couldn’t afford to feed them so once they were old enough (still children), they would work in a limited potato field near their grandmother’s home. Kennedy was the leader of the pack, the oldest, and would work in the field day in and day out with the hot Kenyan sun beating on his back. That is a hell no 11 year old should go through.

Kennedy and his younger brother, Samson, were brought to the HALO home in Kenya 7 years ago. Kennedy was enrolled in school and although he was years behind, he learned to read and write and made it through to carpentry vocational training, which was his dream. He now lives in a small apartment very close to the HALO home with another HALO home graduate, working as a carpenter. Both boys still come to the home for warm meals with their HALO family.

On days when he was bent over, digging the dry earth, searching for just one potato for his starving little brother to eat, Kennedy could have given up. Instead he made the choice every morning to persevere. Every day. There was no room for complaining. Kennedy now has a skill that will provide for his family and community for the rest of his life.

When I think I am having a hard day, I remember Kennedy at the age of 11 in that hot, dry, Kenyan field.

My self edit to Winston Churchill’s quote – If you’re going through hell, keep it in perspective. And then keep on going.