For four days in 2005, we were delighted to have Sam, a development worker from Kenya, as our guest. Sam had stayed with us once before, in 1992, he seemed not to have grown a day older in the intervening years
The world about which he spoke was so thoroughly other, so different from ours that it was hard to even imagine. The small non-governmental organisation he ran engaged with communities whose lives we found difficult to contemplate.
The agency worked with people on agricultural and community projects and in education and awareness programmes. The AIDS crisis in Kenya has become a massive obstacle in the way of development; the agency realised that they could not carry on any effective development programme unless they addressed HIV/AIDS.
The programme they developed was noteworthy to the extent that Sam spoke at Dublin’s Mansion House on World Aids Day, along with the Minister for Overseas Development.
Talking about Sam’s work in abstract terms was easy. It was much harder to talk about it in concrete terms. Could we actually feel how it would be to be dying from Aids, living in a one-roomed house without running water or sanitation, unable to work, unable to support your family, lacking the most basic necessities?
As he left on a December morning in 2005, I felt a pang of guilty pain about him leaving our comfortable south Dublin home to return to a world where he must engage in a daily struggle for the dignity of people. As Christmas was then approaching, I also felt what an absurd existence we led here; how obsessed with trivia we were; how concerned with the most petty of details; how worked up we got about the most ridiculous of things.
There was had hardly been a moment when Sam was not smiling or laughing. “Sam”, I had asked, “do you not get depressed sometimes, facing such overwhelming circumstances?”
“No”, he said, “I get frustrated that we cannot do more, but I do not get depressed. It is the Lord’s work”.
Coming in from an afternoon of parish visiting, an email had arrived at 1355 from the small organization that Sam ran.
Season greetings from BIDII.
As we started the year 2009, the journey looked so long and it is unbelievable that it’s just a few days and we cross over to a new year 2010. When we flash back, we can see the faithfulness of our Lord. He has enabled us cross deep valleys and climb high mountains in this year, one of them being the sickness of Mr. Samuel Mutisya, the Executive Director and founder of BIDII. Since the beginning of the year, he has been on and off the hospital fighting with cancer but at long last his journey came to an end and he left us early this morning. One thing we are sure of is that he fought a good fight,he has won the battle and has gone to be with the Lord. We feel deprived of someone who was special to us, because he was a father to all of us, but given the pain he has borne for many months, we accept God’s doing and encourage ourselves that he has finally rested. Please, remember his family in prayers at this difficult time in their lives.
The sincerity of the writer of the email cannot be doubted, she is a wonderful, buoyant, vivacious person, and the only person ever to summon our family to prayers around the kitchen table at 6 am on a March morning in Dublin, but if it is the Lord’s doing, then he has an odd way of working.