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A Father's Burden

It’s early and a chill still lingers in the air. Three of Simeon’s four children have already left for school. His youngest, a 3 ½-year-old girl, has painstakingly strapped her dilapidated wedge sandals onto the wrong feet. He’ll help her remedy the mix-up shortly. For now, Simeon ensures her pink, and what was formerly white, polka dot jacket is in position. The zipper broke ages ago, but his hand-stitching effort keeps the coat closed. Thankfully, it still fits.

David about to leave to seek work

Simeon slips on his pants, which are at least two sizes too long, and rolls the bottoms several times into place above his open-toed foam slip-ons. These shoes aren’t ideal for construction work or extensive walking, but at least he has a pair. Besides, there’s no guarantee the building crews will be hiring laborers today.

“Maybe there will be a business that needs cleaning, or someone looking for casual help,” he thinks to himself. “I pray there is something, anything.”

Simeon kisses his daughter, pulls back the bright pink sheet covering his home’s only opening, and steps out into the sunlight. He walks 10 feet or so, just past the fire pit, and looks back at the doorway. A malnourished dog strolls into the opening and collapses in the shade. Then his bright-eyed daughter moves into view gazing at him.

Simeon's daughter

“She’ll be okay alone today,” he reassures himself. “I have to look for work. It’s been more than a week since I’ve earned any money. I have no choice.”

Simeon turns and walks away through the slum toward town, toward hope.


This is the daily routine for the 45-year-old single-father of four. There are no social services here. And while work opportunities have been challenging to secure for decades, pandemic-induced bottlenecks and shortages have pushed income consistency to the brink of impossible for most area residents.

A 2022 National Institutes of Health journal article revealed that during the pandemic, “many slum dwellers [were] pushed further into poverty,” and many poverty-stricken households were, “rendered even more vulnerable and [were] unable to afford food and to pay rent.”(1) And this reality persists today.

Simeon earns between two and three dollars per day when he is able to find labor. A full day’s work isn’t always available, however, and he often returns home with half that amount, or less.

Simeon's makeshift kitchen

Your love gives life.

Today, Simeon’s burden has been eased thanks to your generosity. Team members from Vapor’s Kawangware center arrived with more than 35 pounds of essential food items including wheat and corn flower, rice, beans, sugar, and cooking oil. Simeon will stretch the provisions for as long as possible. Preparing just one meal a day will ensure that he and his children have at least something to eat every day for up to two weeks, or even longer.

“Had it not been for the [community] outreach, many people would suffer even more,” said Charles, the Poverty Alleviation Manager at the Vapor center. “A lot of people need help. We try to identify the people who are at the critical point.”

Simeon’s family is just one of thousands that have received life-sustaining resources through our outreach initiatives. Your giving makes it all possible, and Simeon wanted to share a message directly with you.

“Every time the help comes, it gives joy and hope that things can get better,” he said. “I am grateful for everything on behalf of my family. I pray for those who give. I pray that they will continue. I want them to know it is helping real people.”


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