Right choices

Kym Bishop 21 Aug 2017 sunday blog  literacy  MPower 

Recently we went to the beach. We had not been for a while and everyone felt like an outing, so we grabbed some gear, I packed a few snacks and we hit the sand. We hadn't been on the beach long before the children came asking for a snack, and I proceeded to hand out the apples, bananas, naartjies, nuts, seeds and rice cakes I had brought along.

Just at that moment, the ice cream man came and stood about half a metre away from us, and rang his bell. We know of a family where the parents' told the children that every time the ice cream van plays music, it means the ice-cream is finished, that is how the ice cream man lets everyone know NOT to come looking for ice cream. I had always thought this strategy slightly cruel, until that moment on the beach, when instantly, my selection of healthy and nutritious snacks failed to live up to what my children knew was lurking in the red cool box.

I refused to give up (neither did the ice-cream man, by the way, who continued to ring his bell, in time with the children's repeated queries as to why they couldn't have an ice cream). I held my ground. I handed out fruit when all around was the offer of ice cream. It was a lonely and unpopular place to be :)

Making right choices can feel like that sometimes. Whether it is choosing honesty, or sticking at something you have committed to even when a better option comes up, or standing up for truth and justice – it is always easier to give in and eat ice cream.

On a Thursday afternoon at UMC, a group of people meet each week in the Upper Room and offer adult literacy lessons. For both the tutors and learners, there are lots of reasons why committing to this journey is difficult, there are lots of challenges that might keep them away. And yet, each Thursday they are there, learning, teaching, getting to know each other, sharing the journey. Each week I am inspired by their hope and passion. In a world constantly calling us to take the easy road, to give up, to not care (to eat ice cream) both the learners and the tutors are choosing another path, and together they are changing the world.

Also, this week Nonny and the team of community workers from Mpower presented a paper at a conference in Cape Town. Speakers come from all over the world to present, and people come from all over the world to hear about the work being done through narrative tools. To be asked to present is an enormous privilege, and it is wonderful to think that the work this team is doing with young people at Nkobongo is inspiring others. They too have chosen the more difficult path of caring and getting involved. How can we do the same?

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