Monday, March 3, 2008

Remarkable Dru

Remarkable Dru

She doesn’t look like Mother Teresa at all. She’s taller; graying reddish hair tops a middle-aged face with eyes that light up with her smile. Her mid-west twang betrays her Peoria roots. I had to ask: “What’s a white woman doing alone in Africa, living in a simple house in a dangerous city, and working with street children?”

Dru Smith is a formidable woman behind her loving and gentle demeanor. I am told she could walk in the dangerous Kitwe streets in the dark of night and no one would dare touch her. The street boys she cared for in years past are now mostly grown, many remaining homeless young men, but fiercely loyal to the woman who cared for them in earlier years. Eight very special street boys continue in school and have homes because of her continued care. The programs she started have expanded and continue under the able hands of others as Dru has turned her attention to other areas of need.

It was my privilege to spend three days with Dru. During that time I glimpsed perhaps the most genuinely loving spirit I’ve ever known. I watched her hug the unhuggable, hold the unholdable, and love a group of outcast children into humanity. One day at the school where she works we saw a little girl squatting in the long grass outside a building. The little girl was retching up an empty stomach, fevered by malaria, smelly and tattered and wary about the eyes. Dru simply gathered her up and placed her in her car for the trip to her home in Zambia Compound, a wretched slum if there ever was one. Our car crept along the rutted dirt road, people pressing against it and a drunk banging on it much of the way. Dru was unfazed and got us in and out of the dangerous compound—just another part of the job for her.

Dru’s are no “random acts of kindness” such as we pride ourselves in doing. Hers is a purposeful life of continued love and generosity over a long period of time. I cannot leave Zambia without paying tribute to her. Now that I think about it, if it weren’t for the height and lack of wrinkles, she does look like Mother Teresa.
P.S. In photos above you see Dru with a former street boy, albino Dowdi (Arabic for David), who now lives and thrives at a School for the Blind sponsored by the Lions Club. His red tie indicates that he is the "head student" or an equivelent of school/class president. Children greet Dru each morning like the Pied Piper as they walk the lane to school.

1 comment:

M R R said...

I had the extreme pleasure of working with Dru for a short time. In that brief time she showed more concern, love and compassion at times I needed more than anyone will ever know. She is a truly an angel and I miss her dearly.