Do you know someone that always smiles? And I don’t mean a forced friendliness, a sincere smile that comes from a sincere heart!
We have a family like that in our church. Innocence, his wife and 5 children. Each one of them, always smiles. I remembered thinking that they surely must have something to smile about…
Last night we had our second celebration dinner, where we aim to know people a bit better.
What I know about Innocence and his family is that they are political refugees from a Northern African state. He was involved in politics but had to flee for his life because he did not agree with the genocide going on in his land.
Last night he gave me some more details… and I struggled to keep back the tears!
He told me, how more than once, he and his family had to flee flying bullets. How he had to tell his children: “Keep your head low if you don’t want to die!”
One time, they could not flee and he had to hide his children between corpses and told them: “If you move, you die!”
Another time a man was shot and fell on one of his daughters. He told her to lay still under this bleeding corpse until he would come back for her… after six hours he lifted the body off her - terrified, full of the dead man’s blood, but alive.
At times each one of them could only eat two spoons of rice and two spoons of water. Safely in South Africa, when they could eat more, their children still only ate two spoons of food. He had to teach them that they can actually eat more!
It took me some time to process all of this information. Trying to understand that behind the smile there is so much trauma and pain. So why the smile…?
Because behind the smile, there is a family of 7 people, that lives safely in a small room in Danville, sharing communal bathroom and kitchen. Who struggles to pay the rent of R1800.00 and do peace jobs to get food on the table.
But his whole family survived, he did not lose his wife or one of his 5 children….what is there not to smile about?