Submitted by Kristen Konkol, South Africa
Her fingers are blue from the cold as she dresses for the day. It’s still dark as she walks from her home to the main road. She joins many others who raise their hands, signaling for a lift. Finally, a pick-up pulls over and she climbs into the bed of the truck with 12 others. After she’s dropped off, she walks to where she will work with her hands to make ends meet.
He sits and waits, looking at his hands. After years of study, they are skilled, practiced, and proficient. He did well on the written surgical specialty exam. The oral exam is the final step. He will be qualified as a surgeon able to practice international medicine anywhere in the world, the first black South African to do so at this institution. It’s time. He sits before a board of light-skinned faces and answers question after question without hesitation or intimidation. Days go by and he finally receives word. He was not passed. He is resolved to overcome the obvious injustice and “make them” have to pass him the next time he comes before them.
Her hands ache and her knees protest as she rises from the garden. As she enters the house she is pleased to see a grandson trying to sweep away the dirt that blew in that day. His care, his future, is up to her now. AIDS robbed her of children and her grandchildren of parents. Thank God for the garden.
It is humbling to witness how so many in South Africa face down monumental challenges with faith, resilience, and perseverance. Day by day. Generation after generation. “There is no other option,” it is said, “but to rise above and overcome for a better tomorrow.”
Peace and blessings, Kristen
Kristen Konkol and her husband, the Rev. Brian Konkol, are project coordinators for ELCA Young Adults in Global Mission in South Africa. Visit the project Web site at http://elcamud.blogspot.com.