Love comes in various forms, and I am convinced that it comes mostly through the people around us. Many of you have been following the story of my friend, Kabale, who has been thriving as an HIV positive community leader in the desert of Marsabit, Kenya. She was recently diagnosed with throat cancer, and requires a $4000 surgery to remove the tumor, a cost that is unobtainable for those living in extreme poverty. Even with significant generosity from Kabale’s friends and family, any offering would still pale in comparison to the amount of money required for such an operation.
On Sunday July 15th, Kabale hosted her community gathering to raise support for her surgery. As expected, those who are closest to her came to offer what they could. Most of the 100 guests were members of HIV/AIDS support groups who had been impacted by Kabale’s leadership and courage to be the first person to come out publicly about her HIV status.
One by one, women wrapped in brilliant fabrics and men in sandals and traditional caps came with their offerings – some with 300 shillings ($3.75), others with 500 shillings ($6.25) and a few with 1000 shillings ($12.75) – all as demonstrations of sacrificial and joyful love for their sister and leader. It was a magnificent picture of the way community ought to live. And with that demonstration of generosity still came the reality of limitation of resource and geography.
As they sat in fellowship with one another on that Sunday afternoon - knowing that the money they had pooled together was not enough - a surprise parade entered in. First, a group of teachers who had worked with Kabale in a local school. Then, the leaders of her church. And then national staff of our partner, Food for the Hungry. And then the clinicians of the Tumaini clinic where Kabale serves as community advocate. And finally, a group of government officials came in.
This broad array of community had battled all odds and collectively raised 280,000 shillings ($3,500) for Kabale. And there in her home was proof that love had walked in. I spoke with our friend Zachary, who was there that Sunday, and asked him if this is a normal occurrence for someone who is in need of significant medical support or if it was unprecedented.
“No,” he said, “this does not happen for everyone.”
So, why did it happen for Kabale? “Kabale is our hero,” he said. “She is the one who has given the people here hope for life. The school, church, government and hospital all know that their services have been successful because of her leadership. We all need her.” Blood:Water Mission (and many of you) have made an offering to ensure the rest of the expenses are covered, because she is our hero, too.
Today is the day of Kabale’s surgery. She is deep on my heart, and on the heart of so many others. May God be with her through the operation, and may she feel the prayers and love from all of us.