The Wave by Father Eamonn Kelly
Father Eamonn Kelly shares a moving experience from a recent self-funded trip to Malawi.
It is an ordinary Tuesday in November and I am back in my room after a day visiting three schools in Malawi. I am so blessed to have a day like this and to have met the people I have met. There are so many good people that today has moved my positivity about the world up to a much better level. As I know I cannot put into words that would convey all of the encounters of today I will tell you about one.
I did not know her name until later in the day but I will use it from the start of my wee story. Her name is Isisus. (This may not be the correct spelling but that is what her name sounded like to me). I was standing with two Mary's Meals colleagues taking in the scene as about four hundred children were lining up to receive their daily meal. The local volunteers were busy serving the cup of hot porridge and the line was already moving quite quickly. Isisus was in the middle of the queue for her cup of porridge when she waved over in our direction. It was not a big wave or a loud wave but the three of us noticed it. Instinctively we waved back. Now many children - thinking that we were wavering at them - waved back at us. As many as thirty children were now waving to us so we waved a bit more energetically back at them. Then it seemed that the whole queue of children was waving except the children actually receiving the porridge at that moment or those next to them. We too responded and now almost all in the yard were waving a joyous wave of goodness as the children received the needed food and we received a delicious memory that will be etched in the mind for many years to come.
The waving subsided as the queue got smaller but that natural, spontaneous, heart-warming moment changed something within me. Somewhere in the sight of the first wave from Isisus, the response of us volunteers, the spreading of the wave I connected the coin collection on a wet and windy day in Tipperary with the simple and awesome scene before my eyes – the feeding of God’s children. Without theories, without budgets, without even a plan, the wave of a ten year old girl had explained what Mary's Meals is: a life changing movement that brings hope to people where hope would otherwise struggle.
About thirty minutes after that wave ended the three of us met Isisus and her friends as they left back their cups. “How are you?” I asked. All three girls answered at the same time “fine” and then we asked for their names and that is how I got to know her name, Isisus.
“Can I tell you something?” Isisus asked.
“Of course”, we three now answered together.
“I would like to thank you for the porridge.”
“You are most welcome,” one of my colleagues answered and the other said “I hope you enjoy it every day” but I could not speak for my throat was blocked with emotion and my eyes were ready to burst, for it was not me who provided her meal but the man doing the fund-raising cycle, the ladies organising the charity football match, the sisters who ran the bring and buy, the farmer who organised the tractor run, the ladies who held the coffee morning and people behind the talent contest.
For me in that moment, Isisus had sparked the connection between what we do and the amazing hope-giving change the daily plate of porridge brings. After what seemed like ages I told the girls that it was my honour to help bring the food to their school. And then they were gone, back to the classroom to get some more knowledge and I was left with a beautiful awareness of the privilege it is to be involved in Mary's Meals.