Today we visited two of the working groups and were treated to a lunch prepared by members of Kabati – “Shakers”. The second group was Kayole – “Smart Working Group”. More about the group names in a minute.
We heard each of the members present (some were working and were not able to attend, but most were there) stand up and introduce themselves, telling us what they were doing in terms of work and were asked by Florence to talk about what Panua had meant for their lives. They could talk to us without looking at the floor, they had confidence, they spoke in English as they realized they needed to develop that skill in order to take themselves into the world of commerce. Of course we heard things like they wanted to be the best at what they were doing or wanted to have the biggest business of that kind in Navashia, but they also said that Panua had given them Hope and the confidence in themselves that they could achieve their dreams, and that was something that they could never have done before Panua. There were more than a few who added that they wanted to take what they had learned and help others going through what they had been faced with. They led us in prayers, gave financial accounts of the working groups’ finances, and talked about their faith in God and their thankfulness for the people back in Winter Park. I tried to tell them that they were helping to transform us by their example and what they had overcome. I’m not sure they understood or believed that they could have an impact on us.
Now about the names. Understand that these youth have had very isolated lives prior to Panua. They don’t have afterschool programs, birthday parties, playgroups, or soccer teams to play on. When they are brought into the program it’s the first time they are around other people in a social setting and when they share their personal stories, they realize they are not alone in the world. This opens up a new possibility for their lives. They elect a chairperson, secretary and treasurer. They also decide on an identity for themselves. They have never had any power to associate themselves with any kind of positive image and as such they look for a name to give them motivation, and to help define how they will be known within their communities.
The ‘Shakers’ want to shake things up, the ‘Smart Working Group’ says they want to be known as smart. Not a bad thing to be known as! One group chose ‘Bazooka’ as their name. When asked about the choice of a weapon as a name, they said, not the weapon but the explosion that occurs when the weapon is used – another way to say lets shake things up. They were once known as a drain on the community, beggars, social outcasts. But now, they can be smart, they can bring about change. They can shake things up….