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My newest donor is an orphan from Mombasa.  How do you show your appreciation to a gift that you cannot hardly believe is possible?

Last weekend I received a phone call from one of the young men I know, an orphan who I helped get some casual work earlier this year.  He was helping building a new house and was known for his prompt arrival in the morning and for doing anything needed, usually ending up with the dirty physical labor of carrying and mixing cement.  He almost always had the same outfit on and was covered in dust, but he would smile & wave as I passed on my way to the office.
This time Martin called me to tell me he’d found a job – as a security guard for an international company.  He was so proud.  I was happy to hear that he’d be paid a better wage than most guards – 10,000 Kenyan shillings or about $120 per month.  In American standards, not great, especially for 12-hour days, six days a week.  He told me he’d come to see me on his “off-day.”
I was still a bit surprised when Friday Martin came to our office, dressed in style!  He’s being switched to a new site and was called to say that he’ll need to work nights, but he’s still happy with it.  His last assignment was at a tea packing place so they gave him two cups of tea – one in the morning & one in the afternoon, which was good since he doesn’t get a lunch break.  He told me that it was okay, he didn’t need to eat anyway.  He then started telling me about how he wanted to buy a uniform for a student that didn’t have one.  I assumed he meant a neighbor boy that he had offered to have live with him while the other boy was going to school.  But when I asked about the boy, Martin said, no, the money is for one of my students.  He told me he thought 2000 shillings would be enough, and if I’d be around, he’d go to the bank right now and withdraw it.
So he did.
He gave me a fifth of his income.
Two months rent.
A third of the money he’s going to try to save to go back to school.
Can you imagine?
I still can’t believe it.  I know in my head that it was driven by his desire to help someone else, like all of the donors who help me do the work I do.  He told me how grateful he was that he had a job now,  that he wanted to show his appreciation.
And so how do I appreciate someone else’s appreciation?
I am overwhelmed by his generosity.

Erik Cambier
Erik Cambier served as Maryknoll lay missioner for 25 years, in Tanzania, the United States, Venezuela and El Salvador.