I was surprised by another visit from a mighty spirit, a visit from my friend Peter Ajang. I have seen him three times since coming to Kenya. An unexpected call on my African mobile phone, a walk to the front gate of campus, and Peter was once again in my home on Malawi Close. He was in Nairobi for the week at a church conference and secured an extra day to see me and attend church services in the city. He is nothing if not determined, resourceful, fearless, and full of initiative.
Peter is earning a diploma in social work and counseling from the Kenya Institute of Social Work and Community Development. He takes all of his courses on-line and works from Dadaab. He had to read nine books and take on-line exams. His work is paying for his schooling, and Peter works hard. He has no computer, except at work. His grades were posted on-line and together we used my laptop to look at his scores for his first term. He passed every course!
Peter has two more terms and he will earn his diploma in counseling. I wish I could introduce him to every lazy, privileged, spoiled college student I have ever met, those who don’t show up, don’t do the work, and complain about insignificant difficulties. He could teach them a thing or ten.
He will be a very good counselor. He is a people-person, one of the most affable and approachable and social people I have ever met. When I found him on campus he was not waiting alone; he had made a friend. Peter is never alone. He is a mighty spirit.
As we left my front gate for the long walk across campus back to the main gate the handle on his suitcase snapped. Peter carried the suitcase on his shoulder and back. It was hot and sunny. The suitcase was heavy.
Peter’s phone never stops ringing. He solves problems in Dadaab when he is not in Dadaab. He sorts out bus seats for others. He speaks to his pastor. He talks to his wife. He searches for his sister. His phone plays the sound of a laughing child when it rings. It makes me smile, as it seems like Peter has begun to laugh like a four year old with the giggles.
As we walked I carried his suitcase on my shoulder so he could speak on the phone. I could manage. If Peter could manage, I could manage. If Consolata could carry my suitcase on her head when I arrived in Kenya I could help Peter while he took a phone call.
Americans now have wheels on our suitcases. Fancy wheels. This was a cloth suitcase with no wheels.
I gave Peter money for a new suitcase. He needs to be able to travel. He has things to do in this world. I watched him hoist his suitcase in his arms and board the matatu to head into town, to Nairobi. Nothing will stop Peter.
Safe travels rafiki. I will see you next time.
He has already found a new suitcase.