From the wisdom of Scripture to the teaching of modern psychology, one principle that is promoted for human development and that helps us to relate to one another is this: receiving and then giving to others, being helped and then helping others, receiving love and then loving others in turn. For us, this is what we see when we look at Cati. Her life is marked by many trials and amazing achievements that we have been privileged to witness.
I came into contact with Cati through her sister, who I met while she was begging on a public bus. Afraid that this young, beautiful girl could easily be coerced into the gang of boys living on the streets, I asked her who she was and where she was from. Before I knew it, she had taken me to her home, where I met her grandmother, mother, four brothers and four sisters, the youngest of which was Cati. Up to this point, all of our work had been with youth living on the streets. With Cati’s family, we began to prevent children from living on the streets – a project that we launched at the “Valley” Community Center. Cati was part of the first group of children that started first grade at the appropriate time of seven years old – the first in her family to do so.
She was a happy and energetic child. The voice that she has now as an adult reminds us of the voice she had then. And her laugh…has grown exponentially in vitality and volume since she was just a girl with short, black hair and tan skin. No one from her home could offer Cati an education. That is why Cati simply absorbed the support offered by the WMF community. The picture of her first day at school has remained on of our most precious memories of that time. Dressed in her uniform, with her big school bag on her back, and with a big smile on her face, Cati took her first steps on a journey that would shape her life.
It took much patience, much investment, much struggle and many years. And we were happy to offer all of this. Today, Cati is no longer just a child in whom we are investing; she is part of our team. After she graduated from high school, she became an educator in the “Butterfly” Day Center that we run in a nearby village. When asked why she wanted to do this type of work with our community, Cati replied, “It’s simple. I received and now it is time for me to give to others.”
It’s true that we help lots of kids so that they can go to school, but not all excel. We support many teens in their relationships with their families, but not all develop as they need and should. We help many, but not all of them help in return. This raises a question that we are often asked: Is it worth it? We believe that any act of love is valuable and, therefore, is worth doing. More than this, we are aware of all that we receive in being part of the stories of those like Cati as they grow up, change, come to know the Lord, share their lives with us, and inspire us. We receive, and we are continually invited to give.