Rosh Hashanah surrounded me yesterday in the streets of Brooklyn and in Prospect Park as the Jewish community celebrated their new year. I loved it. The energy of family photographs in the park, children dressed in holiday best, and the anticipation of what a new year may bring resonated with my own hopes for this new year that we start as a family in Brooklyn.
Associated with these aspirations, and never far from my heart, is the Chikumbuso Project as it continues under the direction of women like Lisa, Trudy, Beauty, and others. Over these past six months I have seen growth in their daily determination to work hard, love, and give back. Hearing from those at the project and seeing photos of all that has taken place over these past six months brings my heart’s thoughts to peace, to Shalom, and all this word incorporates. Shalom is more than a greeting of peace, it is a wish for wholeness in the lives of those who receive it. In Ng’ombe it is wholeness brought to these women who struggle daily to feed their families, keep them healthy and send them to school. Chikumbuso has brought wholeness and balance to the orphan children as they attend our free school and learn to heal by confronting their losses and moving on in hope. The presence of Shalom brings a freedom from injustice as young adults pick back up their lives through learning to tailor and cook knowing that facing stigma can empower them to become part of something so much bigger than themselves. Receiving and giving back on a daily basis to the community has healed the wounds of so many at Chikumbuso. This gift of wholeness, that you are giving as you continue to be a part of Chikumbuso, through your support and love, enables each member of our community to stand on their own and to stand together as one in love.
In this “new year” of Brooklyn my worries for Chikumbuso have been alleviated by your willingness to carry on as I transition to a new role, trusting that Chikumbuso is so much more than a project to those in Ng’ombe. It is their life, their reality and I am assured that they will never let it go. And I will continue to help Chikumbuso grow by creating and growing our Chikumbuso community here, for just as in Ng’ombe, our mission statement in the US is: To remember those who have died, to remember where we come from, and to remember to do for others. Please reach out to me if you are interested in having me come and speak in your community, or if you’d like to become more involved in the coming year. There will be many new opportunities to grow your relationship to this whole and loving community.
So I leave you with a Rosh Hashanah blessing, “ shana tova u’metukah” may this be “a good and sweet year“ to come. Blessings on each and every one of you.