Friday, July 07, 2006

The Test of Courage

The Kufusa Mari savings club project has been going on for a number of years and each time a group of women in the project ‘graduate’ a big field day is held to both celebrate their success and also try to recruit more members. At a couple of field days attended by myself and Elizabeth Bara, I was asked to say a few words. Rather than the usual “You are all on your way to success.” type speech, I decided to say it in the way of a story about Siphiwe.

Siphiwe grew up as a poor girl in a small rural family. Her parents worked hard as subsistence farmers and occasional gold panners. By the time she was 12, she was an orphan due to the HIV AIDS pandemic. She was the oldest, taking care of her siblings and having a hard life. Her only thing of value was the house she still lived in which her parents had built when they were alive. The house had two rooms. One was a large room where they slept and cooked and ate. The other room was unknown. Siphiwe’s parents had told her to never open that door or something awful would happen. So Siphiwe never did and when they died she never thought to ask about that room.

Siphiwe lived a difficult life with constant illness and hunger and yet throughout her life she was always afraid to open that door. It was the fear that something bad may happen. She was always afraid to take that chance.

When Siphiwe got to be old and finally passed on, she was so happy to be finally free of all the pain of life on earth and she was so excited to be going to heaven. She soon met her guardian angel who informed her that there was one thing that she must do before she can move on to heaven. Siphiwe, very puzzled, asked what that could be. Her angel said, “Siphiwe I want you to open that door in your house. You know the one that you always feared.”

Siphiwe suddenly was frozen with fear. “I cannot open that door. Something bad will happen to me!”

“Come on Siphiwe, you’re already dead. What could possibly happen?” the angel encouraged. The angel spent about 10 more minutes trying to convince her to open that door. Finally she agreed but was still very hesitant and frightened. So Siphiwe carefully grabbed the knob, turned it and ever so slowly, pulled the door open.

Suddenly she could not believe her eyes. The small room had cooking pots, plates, pans, utensils, blankets, and a large container of gold. It seems her parents had saved all of this for the children and wanted to protect it. Unfortunately, they failed to tell Siphiwe the truth before they died. Siphiwe began to cry. “If only I had a little more courage and had taken the chance of opening that door, my whole life would have been different!”

Now gesturing to the crowd of women who have already began their success by joining the Kufusa Mari savings club project, I would say, “Sometimes it takes courage to try something new because there will always be people around you saying bad things about it. But by joining Kufusa Mari, you have all shown that you are prepared to take that chance to be successful. Yes, all of you have already opened that door! And I wish you all continued success.”

-Tom, Co-founder and Board President

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What an excellent program.