Friday, September 6, 2019

The Caux inspiring spirit of Change by Olivia Wambi of Kenya 

 When I first came to Caux last year I was lost. I didn't know what I wanted or what direction I wanted my life to take. I was trying to recover from a situation that had left my world shattered.  I hated myself and I couldn't help but ask myself, how did I even get here, how is my life so messed up? I was stuck, I didn't know what next so I packed my bag and went for a one week inner healing silent retreat. I cried to God for an answer and what I found was my own dirty laundry that needed cleaning. I lived my life in fear. Fear of not being good enough, fear of living up to people's expectations, fear of being myself. Raised by a single mom, the absence of my father left a void in my heart. I got bullied, I got abused, after all I was the girl with no father to protect her. All this made me put the blame on my mum which really affected our relationship and I ended up suffering from depression. Because of fear, I lived a life of solitude and I made unwise decisions about life and my career. I carried that pain for years and even though at 18 years I got to meet my dad, I didn’t find the dad I hoped for, rather my father.

My mum told me about Caux Peace and Leadership Programme (CPLP).  I was hesitant to apply because considering my situation I didn't see it as the right time. My mother was really persistent and kept pushing me to apply and eventually I did. I was accepted but I didn't have the excitement because I had previously had the frustration of five USA student visa denials after being accepted into the University of Massachusetts, Boston.  So being able to get a visa to be here didn't feel possible.  I remember my first denial the consulate told me that I didn't have a father so how could I afford an education in USA and that broke the already broken pieces.

My mum held my hand in the Caux process and I am grateful for her persistence because today I can say she felt that need for me to be part of  it even when I didn't see it myself.  At that point in life I felt exhausted and I needed my life to change but I didn't know how till I came here. Caux is where people are family, where sharing is power, where love is pure, where service is filled with a smile. Every experience and every session felt like a message directed towards me which left me with more questions about myself that needed answers.

I talked less and I would take more quiet time alone just to try and figure things out.  Slowly I started to uncover myself. I first shared my story with Mahira Karim.  For the first time I felt a huge load taken off my shoulders. I cried it out in front of her - something that I had not done before in my life. I never showed my tears, I never shared my pain. I was so used to fighting silent battles, to fighting alone that I became immune to the pain. Its okay to not be okay and its okay to cry when you need to, she told me and those words I carry along every day. She is the one person who always told me what I needed to hear and never what I wanted to hear and that challenged me every day to build courage and face my fears. That's how my journey of change began.

The time came to go down the mountain (from Mountain House, Caux) and I was really scared, but I knew it's either I take charge of my life or life will take charge.   Mahira kept checking in on me every time which gave me a push to get things done. I started working on changing my attitude which changed my behaviour and in turn changed my character.  I even apologized to my mom for my attitude over the years and our relationship has really improved, something I am happy about.   I am blessed to have an amazing mum like her.  Despite my shortcomings she has been patient and so understanding over the years.  I can't even begin to imagine the sacrifices she put in for me to be here today.

Today I am change in progress and certainly I am better than I was a year ago. I may not be where I want to be, nor can I go back and change my past, but I can build a better future for myself. I believe that everything happens for a reason and for a purpose because if I had never gone through these challenges, if I hadn’t come here (to Caux), my life would still be moving in circles and still living in my comfort zone.  However, I am here today because challenges were never meant to destroy nor to define me but more to build me. I didn't take a short cut, I faced it all, I took the hardest but the most fruitful decision and I am proud of this person I am today.

Caux is where I found myself, it's where I found the courage to come out of my cocoon, to spread my wings and now I am flying.