Just when life starts getting ordinary around here, a little snippet of sobering reality reminds us where we are.
A few nights ago, we left the church after working a late night. We realized on the way that we had no food at home and no store open to buy groceries. So, we decided to pull into the KFC drive thru for a little dinner.
Now, KFC here is a great deal. You can get two pieces of chicken and chips (fries) for about $2.
Feeling particularly frugal, we ordered one “Streetwise Two” for each of the three of us, Stef, Tiff and myself. Then, in an act of rather ordinary generosity, we ordered another for Juma, our Burundian friend.
All told, we were feeling pretty good. We put in a hard day of work, we were eating cheaply, and we were treating someone else to dinner.
Having placed our order and turned the corner on our way to “Window #2”, the headlights of the van focused squarely on two boys in the KFC parking lot. They were dressed in rags, obviously very dirty. They were maybe 10 and 12 years old. And they were taking the lid off of KFC's trash-can.
We sat there, mesmerized (or stunned or heartbroken or very angry) as these two boys proceeded to go through every discarded box and bag, intricately picking out scraps of garbage that looked good enough to sneak into their mouths. Having exhausted their search, maybe finding 3 scraps of chicken and a few morsels of bread, they quietly replaced the garbage and reattached the lid of the can.
And they crept back into the dark African night.
We reluctantly accepted our order as it came to the window. I don’t know if it was guilt or shame or just a very deep sadness, but the night (and the meal) was tinged with something wholly unpleasant.
I wish we knew those boys. I wish we could help. And I would like to hope that there is something better out there for them, but the realities of this place do not lend themselves to hopefulness.
So we press on, a little more aware.
I almost laugh…
Maybe one day I’ll be a little more pensive when a suburban possum or raccoon tears apart the garbage in search of a meal.
Maybe I’ll remember those boys. And maybe I’ll find a quiet place to pray. For them. For hope.