When I was growing up as a child, we used to grow coffee. Coffee is one of the world’s favourate hot beverage, but do you know how tedious it is to produce a gram of the finished product on your breakfast table? Up to now there is no coffee harvesting machine known to me. Every Berry is hand-picked when ripe. This can be very exhausting and time consuming.
As little children, our parents taught us the value of work and not just work for the sake of it, but perfect work. My father used to say, “if you want to do it then do it well, otherwise do not do it at all.” So every one of us the siblings would be given a portion of coffee bushes to take care of, that is, weed it, put manure, prune and harvest it. All this we learnt firsthand, watching how our parents did it. At the time of payment, which came after every harvesting season, that is, twice a year, each one of us would get his proportional cut of the earnings. This would take care of our minor expenses like buying tooth paste. They taught us how to earn what we spent.
Apart from coffee farming, we also learnt a number of other helpful skills like animal keeping, repair and maintenance of almost everything, from carpentry, Masonry, mechanics and so forth.
This did not only help us to cut a substantial amount of daily expenses but also impacted us with the knowledge in many fields as well as well as the ability to innovate and improvise. It is because of this that I found myself so talented as a young person and felt the call to share these skills with other young people, especially those who did not have the privilege like my siblings and I had.
When I was appointed for my first missionary destination in Arusha, Tanzania two and half years ago, I came face to face with the predicament of many young people. Many of them do not get sufficient education to secure white collar jobs at the end of their O-level program and have little or no technical skills at all to enable them earn a living. I knew that I had a lot to do. Immediately I set on a journey.
We began first with building self confidence and self-motivational skills. Then we embarked on building team-work skills through games like volleyball as well as frequent meetings to discuss issues affecting the youth today.
The latest project is the Candle Making, a, skill I learnt in Soweto, Nairobi when I joined the society of Divine Word Missionaries. I began with designing a candle-making-machine, combining the pprevious technology with the mechanical skills I learnt. The candle machine combines the car engine and brick-making machine technologies.
First we began by recycling of some used candles, before buying new materials. So far a number of youths have learnt the art so well that they are good to go even in my absence.
Down the years in my missionary life, I have realized that people will always remember us by what they learn from us and not how well we dressed, how much money we gave to them or even how good we preached. I understand my missionary vocation as a platform to change the lives of the people through capacity building both spiritually and socially. I sometimes go to bed very exhausted but happy and fulfilled.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD