I hate carnival rides. I’ve always said that my life keeps me off balance enough without having to pay for the privilege. So I haven’t been to a theme park in 25 years. Instead, I do things like mentoring a teenager living in abject poverty in a society that often seems determined to drag its feet on the path to progress. Disney and Six Flags ain’t got nothin’ on the hair-raising turns and dizzying drops in this ride.
Take the current loop… Mtuseni told me today that he got a job as a campus assistant at school. This is another high-profile gig that likely was made possible by his good work on the student committee this past year. (And it pays!)
When I went to Boston Media House in January, a group of campus assistants were helping new registrants, and one brought me in for my meeting with the school administrator. Back then I thought to myself, “Mtuseni’s gotta get one of these jobs.” A year later, mission accomplished. He said it’s for January and February, so he “still has to hustle for December,” as he put it. It’s good to see that he’s pressing to get work. Plus, the campus job is another feather in his cap, for his CV and for his LinkedIn profile. And he did this all on his own. I didn’t even know interviews were coming up!
So that’s the easy, breezy, giddy part of the carnival ride this week — but it’s only a flicker of light in what’s been a dark, unsettling tunnel…
Because Nester, Mtuseni’s mom, has been in hospital for a week. She was taken by ambulance from work last Wednesday. All Mtuseni told me is that she feels weak and is vomiting. He doesn’t seem to know much more; he hasn’t been aggressive in talking with the doctors. I think it’s partly a cultural thing, partly his own issues with authority. And fear and mistrust of doctors. Regardless, being in hospital days on end is never good — and it’s really not good in South Africa, where the system doesn’t roll out the red carpet for the poor. It makes me nervous that something’s really wrong. Nester’s had a rough year healthwise since June, and she’s at the age of average mortality for a woman in South Africa — and living near the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.
I try not to think about worst case scenarios, but it’s in the back of my mind this week. When I told Mtuseni he needs to be more proactive getting information from the doctors so he can plan, he snapped, “Plan what? Ain’t nobody dyin never, not my mom.” I had never mentioned the idea of death — only meant planning child care and finances for the week — but Mtuseni’s response clearly shows that it’s somewhere in his mind too.
A sweet campus ambassador gig.
Mom in hospital for a week, with no answers.
Up. Down. Around and around.
But I’m super proud of Mtuseni today, and how far my boy has come in three years. I’ll keep my mind focused on that for now… and pray for more light and love on this epic ride.
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