Next year...

A friend of ours had her mobile phone stolen. (Let's call her Rebecca, to protect the identity of those later in this story.) Thieves stopped a minibus she was riding home one evening. They took everything of value from the passengers.

Rebecca said to me, "I'll get a new one next year." She earns so little that it will take her at least six months to save up enough to buy a new one. They currently cost about $35.

We have known Rebecca for 15 years. She's a wonderful trustworthy person. We would love to just buy her a new mobile phone, but then what would we say to the twenty or thirty people we know who are in the same position she is? Why did we give her that gift and not them?

So here's the heart-breaking part of the story. Rebecca has a son who is in accounting school. We have been assisting with his tuition - some of the costs but not all. She quietly let it slip that he has been skipping meals because he does not have enough to pay for both his tuition and his meals.

We're going to now pay all of his tuition.

We know the people who employ her. We have struggled whether to confront them about raising her salary. She doesn't want us to, as it could spoil her job with them. Also, it's a pride issue, and we don't want to step in where we shouldn't.

That's just a little picture of some of the tricky issues we deal with all the time here in Kenya. The only answer we have come up with is that there are no easy answers.

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