Mzungu Memoirs

Hard Lessons

We’ve learned some hard lessons the last couple of weeks.  It all started when we discovered Caleb’s Savings Can (piggy bank) was missing.  Since giving Caleb an allowance, we have encouraged him to tuck part of it away in his Savings Can.  Lest you think this is just some rusty old can we gave him, it is actually a can with a removable lid and slit for dropping in coins.  It is decorated with images of Caleb’s current favorite thing, Disney’s Cars.  Caleb has been quite diligent in tucking things away in his Savings Can, saving above and beyond the 100 shillings we have asked him to contribute each week.  He is particularly fond of collecting and “saving” the shiny coins.  I’m not so sure it is as much a “savings can” as a “collection.”

When we discovered the Can was missing, we tried hard not to jump to conclusions but I almost immediately suspected that it had been taken and I think Robert did as well.  We hoped it had merely been misplaced, but I think both of us knew that it would not be found even after a thorough search of Caleb’s room.  Caleb often has friends over to play and is quite free with his toys and possessions, including his wallet and his Savings Can.  We suspect that one of these friends decided he needed the Can and its contents more than Caleb did as we have not seen him since before the discovery of the missing can.

As suspected, the Can has not been found even after tearing Caleb’s room apart to look for it, leaving us with the difficult task of moving forward and learning from this experience.  We have approached it as a family and have taken shared responsibility for the loss of the Can and its contents.  Robert and I felt that it wasn’t fair to ask Caleb to shoulder the entire burden of the loss himself.  Not knowing the exact amount in the Can, Robert estimated it was probably somewhere around 20,000 shillings (did I mention that Caleb really likes those shiny coins?).  We decided to replace the can for him and give him 10,000 shillings to replace some of what he had lost.  It wasn’t all of what he had lost, but it was at least a start.

I have spoken in the past about the program I am involved with where we teach local ladies to make cards and then buy the finished product from them to sell in the west.  Currently, I am in charge of the cash box for this program which has a lot of coins in it, including some nice shiny ones.  I let Caleb pick out some coins to refill his Savings Can.  I, of course, repaid the cash box with paper money from my wallet, and I thought I had explained to Caleb what we were doing, trading equal amounts of paper money for coins.  Apparently, I didn’t do a very good job of explaining as Caleb decided to help himself to some of the coins and put them in his own wallet without putting money back into the cash box.  We discovered this a few days later and had another hard lesson in honesty.  I am proud to say that with some patient encouragement, Caleb was very honest and came clean of his crime.

I think things have now been set right.  We were able to find another Savings Can similar to the original.  It is slightly bigger than the first one, but it still has Caleb’s hero Lightning McQueen on it and he is happily tucking away his shiny coins again.  The Can now resides in Robert’s and my bedroom as does Caleb’s wallet as friends are not allowed to go in our room.  There have been a few additional rules put into place since the incident as well, most notably that friends are not allowed in the house unescorted.

As I mentioned, we have not seen the young man we suspect of taking the Can since before discovering it was missing.  I approach the possibility of his return with mixed emotions.  On one hand, I don’t really want to see him again because he has wronged someone I love and caused us so much trouble.  But on the other hand, I do hope that he comes back so that I can tell him that I forgive him even though I think what he did was wrong.  And so I can inquire about why he did this and help him see the potential for a dark and dangerous future.  I’m sad for him and I hope something better for his life.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” – Luke 6:37

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