AVSI logo. Via Wikimedia Commons

Living in a New Way at Work and in the Family

His encounter with the Movement in Nigeria radically changed his way of facing daily life, from the choice of work to the use of money. The extraordinary at the heart of normality.
Francis Nkafor

I met the Movement in 1991 and, soon after, began working for AVSI [Association of Volunteers in International Service]. I finished secondary school and began working in the AVSI Health Center because I had met people from the Movement who, at a certain point, asked me if I was interested in working there.

In 1993, I began going to Italy, to the La Thuile CL responsibles meeting, and was immediately struck by the friends of my friends and in particular by the young families. It was a very strong impression, a very powerful emotion, because this was my desire, but it seemed like an impossible dream in Africa.

In 2000, I remember very well–it was the fourth time I went to Italy–I decided to get married, even though I knew that it was crazy because I was still a student, a working student. Not only that, but I was studying at a university at quite a distance, and I was penniless. But, in the end, I got married with the girl I love. Everyone around me thought it was crazy–for financial reasons, above all. In any case, we’ve made it, and we have a son. He was born August 26th, two years ago, right when I was in La Thuile.

This seemed crazy too: being thousands of miles away in the moment of my firstborn’s birth. We decided together that I should go, for two reasons. First, our family was born precisely through this experience, and second, this very experience never leaves us on our own, alone. If we take away the experience of CL from our family, everything would collapse. In order to talk to you about my family, I have to talk to you about my experience in the Movement.

Some examples can explain better. We are not rich; we’re a normal family. Yet, we’re very happy because, following the indications we receive, we have built a home where there is peace, where I love to return. In Africa, the culture is very different: the man is the boss and decides everything. Now, both my wife and I teach at the same school, where I also am an administrator. We put everything in common and there’s no problem–I divide everything, and when there’s money, there’s money, and when there isn’t… I simply don’t have the problem of having to control the situation or to be the boss. Living this way, I’m happy, just by following this experience. In these four years we’ve lived this way; in these four years I’ve gone to Italy, leaving my wife behind, and she has always supported me, because the thing that builds our home is this very experience.

When I began working with AVSI, I thought that it was a temporary job, that it was only a step toward a different future. After some years, I went to the university and I saw the attention, the concern with which, very concretely, the friends of the Movement followed me there, helping me. I desired big things; I even wanted to become Minister of Finance of our country, so I didn’t see a future in the work I was doing.

Up to a few years ago in my country, working with the non-governmental organizations wasn’t considered as important as, for example, working for the petroleum companies, but in the Movement I heard people say that reality is for me, and that in order to realize myself, running away never helps. From that moment, my work has changed, and what I heard has revolutionized the meaning of my work at the school we have set up with AVSI, where I have taken on greater responsibility. The interest and commitment have changed. Today, the school is managed, in effect, by me, my wife, William, and Tea.

The change in my way of working has come about, above all, in my commitment and availability. Not considering the salary, I find the work truly interesting and fascinating. It even puts me in front of situations that are challenges for me. At the root of this is the education of the Movement; because of this education, we do normal things in an extraordinary way. To conclude, it may seem obvious, but I have a happy family and I love my work. But after all, what’s important isn’t even the happy family or the good job, but the friends who help me live these things in the right way. This is the companionship I have encountered.