My name is Henry Kibambe. I was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. When I was young, my dream was to become a civil engineer. In 2009, I left my country for Johannesburg, South Africa, not to realize my dream, but to study business administration.
But the Lord sent me to another vocation—to be a Global Mission Fellow of General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) of the United Methodist Church (UMC). I was assigned to serve for 22 months at Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation Inc. (KKFI) in Manila, Philippines.
I arrived in Manila in September 2015 and did not have many expectations about the country. The only thing I knew for sure was that God is calling me to participate in His mission and I had to grab this opportunity to serve Him through he least of his people.
I believe it was time to be a participant in His mission and change my world. People are affected directly or indirectly through my actions. There is nothing much one can do by being a spectator because what he/she can offer is only his/her opinions about certain things, but an active participant in God’s mission offers real solutions to societal issues such as poverty and social and economic injustice. I believe that sometimes our actions as Christians are the only bible some people might have access to.
My first day working at the KKFI coop canteen I had to find a strategy that will connect me with the people, hence I found my favorite and key words: ’’Walang barya” –Tagalog words translated to English as. “no loose change.” That helped me to connect and integrate with local people.
Serving at KKFI canteen has taught me a lot of things about life in general that even top universities in the world cannot teach in their curriculum because these things are only learned by experience. Among the things I learned are: humility and patience. Starting with humility, the people whom I work with might not have tertiary education or formal education, but one thing I knew for sure is that they have life experience which is as important as formal education. So to adapt in this new environment without missing so many learning opportunities as a result of superiority complex, I had to consider myself as someone who knew nothing and had to learn everything.
So far this process of unlearning and learning has yield positive results and gave me another perspective to life. On the other hand they taught me patience, too, because their mind and thinking process might not be as fast as mine in the aspect of decision-making, but their hold to valuable information required patience on my part to be able to get it from them.
Of course, the canteen has many challenges that need to be addressed, but I like challenges because they give me opportunities for growth both career wise as well as socially.
I thank God for giving me this opportunity to serve his people and congratulate myself for saying “yes” to chance to participate in God’s mission to witness his spirit at work and tangible presence among his people especially the least and the lost.
And again my name is Henry Kibambe and this time I say: “Mayroong barya,” meaning there is “loose change.”