Last week I went to visit and pray with the parishioners in the remote village of Loongung 66 Kilometers from the Parish. The Catechist was waiting for me in another village 45 Kilometers away to show me the road because the usual road has been rendered impassible by the rains. During the rainy season some villages like this may go without mass for up to six months. The village is surrounded by sticky black cotton soil that makes it impassible even for our four-wheel drive car.
On the way a woman stopped us and asked for lift to her kin’s homestead near the village we were going about 15 Kilometers through the bush. The road also has many seasonal rivers with many rocks and no bridge. One has to maneuver the vehicle across the river. Normally she would spend half the day walking and would not be able to go back until the following day. This was a lucky day for her. We dropped her on the way and proceeded to the village. We had a seminar before the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. I had also carried some wood and nails to repair the top of the mad altar because when they built is they did not have a clue and so they built it slanting like the pulpit. It made it difficult to place the chalice and the chibolum on it.
After the mass, we had lunch in one of the boma (homestead). Then after blessing the house, the cattle shed and the compound, Simeon, one of the few young men in the church volunteered to escort me back up to a point where I would not get lost because the catechist was remaining in the village to visit the small Christian communities. On the way, we found the same woman waiting for a lift back to her village. We had agreed that she would wait for us. Simeon alighted and we proceeded. When we reached the rocky river the car got stuck. One big rock clamped the axle bar so that the wheels were spinning in the air making it impossible to move.
We both came out and the woman was helping me to get the stones out. We tried all means and it was proving futile. Luckily, I had a machete in the car, which I used to cut a big stick with which I was able to hit the rock off the axle. Using four-wheel drive gear, I was able to get the car out of the river. We were all very much relived though sweating profusely. About a kilometer from the scene, the blessed woman handed to me some money that she was holding in her hands. She told me that this money had fallen from the pocket when I was bending under the car. It was 50,000 shillings equivalent of about 20 USD. Normally this is enough to buy an average goat in the village market day or cater for the food for a family of six for about a week. It was money given by a widow in the village where we had mass, as thanksgiving to God after she had recovered from some illness. I was lost for words and so I only said thank you.
The woman’s gesture reminded me that honest is a value instilled in a person from where one grows up. It is a cultural value that has been greatly eroded in the society today. Once honest has been corrupted, the society experiences many challenges from the family lever to public service. It is the responsibility of parents, teachers and religious leaders to inculcate these values in the society.
Today I visited another village called Noomoton 42 kilometers from the parish where I met children who demonstrated a great sense of responsibility from very young age. At the ages of about between 8-10 years, these angels came early to clean the Church and repair the holes made by ants. In this village, the children do not go to school because the closest school is 12 Kilometers away across the forest
After the mass, I had a small chat with some men on how we can elect at least a single classroom to begin nursery school. They were asking me to find a donor for them but I told them first to do something by themselves and later we can source from well-wishers whatever they are not able to raise. This will make them value the education of their children. I hope and pray that they will see the need and the urgency to do something about it as well as find a someone to boost their effort to have their children get basic education.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD