Yesterday, at Jumecourt, a 15-year-old young man, Kendi, got on our bus. He was going to church with Joseph Volcy’s family.
While Kendi spoke little english, his eyes and easy laugh were bright and personable. Dana, from NJ, used smiles and hand signals to navigate the narrow bridge of English she and Kendi shared.
“Kendi, is Joseph Volcy your friend?” Dana asked.
“No,” Kendi replied. “Volcy is my father.”
I was almost as shocked as when I first learned Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father in “The Empire Strikes Back.” You see, Volcy is 23 years old. He’s is in his second year of marriage. He has a 9-month old daughter. He’s also father to 15-year old, Kendi? No and Yes.
Kendi’s biological Mom and Dad recently died. Kendi needs family, but let’s be reasonable. Joseph is a new husband and a new dad. His growing family lives in a 300-square-foot apartment. Someday, both he and his wife plan to finish high school. He also has a full-time job helping caring for hundreds of other children with GO Project as our Director for Children’s Activities in Haiti. Certainly Joseph doesn’t have the bandwidth to become Kendi’s Dad? Someone older should do it? Someone richer? Someone else. Wouldn’t that be better…or would it just be easier?
Sometimes someone else needs to be you. Sometimes it needs to be me. Volcy knows that all too well.
Eight years ago in Cabaret (the hometown of Kendi and Joseph), Volcy walked in Kendi’s shoes. Volcy was also a double orphan at 15. He knows what it means to be hungry and alone. He knows what it feels like to not have money for school. He knows the weight of being head of household before you’re old enough to shave. He knows the tough road Kendi would walk if someone turned out to be no one. He’s lived it.
So, when it was clear that Kendi needed and trusted Volcy, Joseph became his father. We love providing some support, but it’s not about us. This is about the selflessness and faith of one young man who said “Yes” to a 15-year-old who needed a family. That “Yes” is changing a legacy.
Kendi’s question was not posed to us this time, but you and I will be asked our own questions by people in need with implications to Kendi’s more similar than we may care to admit.
What’s the answer going to be? Am I prepared to be a Legacy Changer? Are you?