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Jonah’s Story

Three years, that’s how long it took. Three years of wondering what had happened, three years of wondering what was going on in his mind, three years of wondering if there had been miscommunication, three years of wondering if I had read you wrong, three years of wondering if you’d ever get back to me, three years of unanswered questions; three years, that’s how long it took him to repay my loan – three years.

When Jonah knocked on my door three years ago, I was just about to leave for work. I was the officer on duty and I always made it a point of honour to arrive even earlier than usual when I was the officer on duty. I was therefore not very amused to receive a visitor just when I was about to leave but being the only counsellor at the camp, this was an occupational hazard and I took it in my stride.

I warmly welcomed Jonah and hoped our conversation did not require too much of my time. I was lucky, it did not. Jonah went straight to the point – he had received news of his wife’s hospitalization a few minutes ago and he didn’t have any money on him to send back home. The hospital, which was private, required some form of deposit before admitting his wife who was critically ill. His first stop, the counsellor’s house.

Being a counsellor to police officers required a lot of patience, grace and stamina. At times, I felt overwhelmed; the men and women in uniform were the walking wounded. If the community needed counsellors, the men and women in uniform needed them twice as much, which is why I took my role as a counsellor with the seriousness it deserved. When my colleagues came to me, I did everything within my power to help in whichever way I could. Sometimes, it meant going out of my way like in this particular instance – I lent Jonah the money that he required for his wife’s hospitalization. He promised to pay me back at the end of the month. I then did not hear from Jonah for three years. 

At the Mwamko Mpya workshop I attended, I remembered one of the facilitators statement– live in such a way that you inspire confidence in your colleagues; that way they will look at how you live your life and the message of positive change and new beginnings will be spread by your way of living. I never hassled Jonah, in fact I never confronted him about the money. I simply resolved in my heart that when he was ready, he would pay me back. 

Three years of grace and patience finally paid off, Jonah approached me out of his own free will. He said that he had been so touched by my generosity towards him that he was speechless. Things had been pretty rough for him at home ever since but he appreciated all the time that I had given him to pay me back and the dignified way that I treated him despite owing me money. Through my actions, he felt that there was indeed a wave of change in how police officers treated one another. 

I’m looking forward to many more Mwamko Mpya workshops where I can learn how to impact my colleagues in a positive manner simply through how I chose to live my life and my interactions with them.

Related Resources:

>> Social Healing, Social Justice and Peacebuilding

>> How community care makes self-care a social justice act

>> Culture, Arts and Healing

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