Giving Hope (to Friends We're Yet To Meet in the Flesh) in the Midst of COVID-19 Pandemic

James Ouma
Posted April 15, 2020 from Kenya
How Lifesong Kenya is Responging to COVID-19
By having our 20 beneficiaries buy from their community we end up supporting their families, friends and neighbours

Social Media has made it easier for people to connect, find jobs, build a career and even find spouses! Despite the fact that I don't have a close friend who located and found a spouse on social media, I do not doubt that this is possible. Haha haha haha! But I know one thing for sure, technology has changed the way things used to happen (remind me to one day share with you how we used to communicate and how some smart guys used to outsmart us!)

Part of my duties (unofficial, I must add!) is to go through social media posts and find one person who needs help and meet that need. This has been a source of blessing to a number of wonderful women who needed urgent help for themselves and for their children. It often gives me joy to see these women post their latest achievements - a wedding, a job, an organization formed and their joy to be alive!

The only downside is that it often leaves my limited finances in tatters and I have to make do with abrupt changes to my usual routine. But the joy and fulfillment of seeing another person find relief, help and refuge when they desperately need help, far outweighs the struggles that follows an act of kindness.

How COVID-19 Has Affected Lifesong Kenya

It is about 5 weeks since I last went to prison or the informal school where Lifesong Kenya runs its programs.. Of course, just like most of us, I have lost track of time and don't know what day it is! But this much I know. I have missed seeing our boys, their caregivers and cycling to and from our program sites.

But thanks to technology and social media, I am able to continue my work - mostly redesigning our website, looking for volunteers, thinking about new ways of doing things and spending quality time with my wife at home. Because she is learning the guitar, there moments I have to stop everything and listen to her strum the guitar and sing...

Old pirates, yes, they rob I Sold I to the merchant ships Minutes after they took I From the bottomless pit But my hand was made strong By the hand of the Almighty We forward in this generation Triumphantly Won't you help to sing These songs of freedom? 'Cause all I ever have Redemption songs Redemption songs

Because she keeps apologizing for not getting the chords correctly and asks me to listen - just one more time - I am almost rolling my eyes, close to reminding her that she often refers to my achievements as a developing cyclists as yada-yada-yada - then I remember that she supports me a lot and gives me the room to do crazy things such as looking for one person who needs help on social media and then disrupting our family finances. I smile and join her in singing.. redemption songs, redemption songs, cause all I ever have, songs of freedom!

Back to COVID-19....

Last week, we managed to raise funds that is aimed at helping children and families in our program. The plan was to support 10 families with food package for one month. Our fundraising campaign raised enough to support 10 families but after discovering we had forgotten to factor teachers and other people who need help into our plans, we had to add 10 more families!

A few days ago, a lady who I am friends with on social media shared an appeal for food and medication. I checked to see which mutual friend we have and if I know any of them. It turns out, I knew no one. I started looking for her and because her phone was faulty, I couldn't reach to her on time.

But I did not give up.

Today, we connected on phone and Lifesong Kenya was able to send a social worker who delivered our food package to her. During our phone conversation she mentioned how shocked, happy and delighted she is that someone responded to her appeal for help on social media. 

"Thank you so much for being an angel!" she exclaimed. "I can now tell my child that there is a Living God Who cares about His people!"

Final Thoughts

As we continue looking for more funding to take care of the additional people I have added to our COVID-19 (if you in an organization, perhaps you know how difficult it is not to meet the needs of an extra person!) I would to add one thing. As we continue using social media - to connect, grow our careers, keep up to date and other things - let us remember that behind every name, photo and profile lies a real human being who desires and deserves our time, respect, compassion, kindness and helping hand. It doesn't matter whether this social media user is in Europe, Africa, Asia, America or wherever they are. Every person on social media desires and deserves to be treated with love and kindness.

Let's learn to actively empathize, listen and respond. Ohhhh, my wife is strumming Redemption Song again! That is a clue that she needs me to be an audience of one! See you next time and keep safe, okay?

 

 

This story was submitted in response to Dispatches from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Comments 10

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Kay Link
Apr 16
Apr 16

Thank you for sharing, James. I like your practice of finding someone needing help on social media and then providing that - something I should start doing as well! You are also right on point about using social media to spread compassion and love, especially since many are feeling isolated with COVID-19.

James Ouma
Apr 16
Apr 16

Hello Kay Link,

Thanks for reading and welcome! Even reaching out to just one person is enough. Imagine how impactful that would be if we all reached out to just one person?

Vanora.Lee
Apr 17
Apr 17

Thanks for your sharing. It is really encouraging, we got to proactively "hunt" the people in need and "reach out" to help them materially. You and your organization are angels. Thank God to know your happy family too. Stay safe, healthy and happiness!

James Ouma
Apr 18
Apr 18

Thanks for reading and for your comments

magg6789
Apr 25
Apr 25

Dear James,
Thank you for your article. It gave a really good insight of how everyone throughout the world is adapting to this new challenge in different manners. Social media seems to be a platform for many negative news or comments, but if we are able to spread compassion and love for others through it then it does serve a positive humanity purposes.

Anita Shrestha
Apr 25
Apr 25

Thank you for sharing

Chi8629
Apr 26
Apr 26

Thank you for sharing.

Sinyuy Geraldine
Apr 27
Apr 27

Hello James. What a beautiful story spiced with reminiscences of your inside life!!! What a beautiful life you are living with your wife. You're blessed to have a wife who loves music.. Continue to teach her. Thank you for always being there to help those in need. Thank you for raising funds to give food ti 10 families. Thanks fir the future plans. I wish you success.

Thelma obani 2020
Apr 29
Apr 29

Thanks for sharing. I feel it's the right thing to do.. no matter how little, stay safe

Busayo Obisakin
May 02
May 02

Well done James and thank you for sharing your story with us! Great job you are doing