One thing which amazes me about Africans is their uncanny ability to solve a problem without having access to proper resources. Conceivably, growing up in a land lacking modern conveniences has developed within them a sense–an ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties–which allows them to develop an ingenious use for everything. What many Americans might deem as useless, rubbish, scrap, or excess, the Congolese consider worthy of a new life. At the Women’s Center, we have found a way to make use of the packaging and marketing material found on imported items (products created locally are sold without any form of packaging since Beni still lacks a waste removal program). Thus, we’ve been shredding magazine advertisements and paper wrappings. The shreds are then transformed: rolled into beads and threaded into necklaces. Although the process is quite laborious, the end result is “beauty-from-ashes”.
Passing by a creek on a recent walk home from school, I paused for a moment to survey the gathering place. This tiny spring of water serves as a mixed-use facility: laundromat, bathroom, drinking fountain, waste receptacle. Saddened by this observation, I’ve been pondering the mass amount of desolation and the need for basic resources here in Congo. Yet amidst much of the desolation–amidst rubble, corruption, fighting, pillaging, refuse–emerges new growth, hope for the future, and a promise of change. At the scene by the water, I noticed that among the detritus there were vibrantly-colored wildflowers unfolding before my eyes. Perhaps all the refuse fertilizes this splendor similarly to how God uses the garbage of our pasts for the goodness of our future and ultimately for His glory. The correlation couldn’t be more apparent when I meditate on the way God transforms our ashes into beauty.