Losing someone you love is always painful, but there is a different kind of ache in my heart that happens when a loved one dies unexpectedly and you know that you will never again hear their voice or feel their hug or share life’s joys and sorrows with them. When I woke up this morning, I learned that Esther Garvi, a young woman who was like a daughter to me, died last night in a car accident in Niger, Africa.
Esther was one of the most compassionate, courageous, generous people that I’ve ever known. She grew up in the town of Zinder, one of the poorest places on earth and she provided thousands of Africans with food, livelihood, and hope. She ran the Eden Foundation, a non-profit founded by her parents that gives seeds and teaches families how to grow trees and plants that nourish and support them in the Sahel desert. Almost 10,000 families benefit from the seeds and the knowledge that Eden provides each growing season. The young girls and women have been encouraged by Esther to sell the fruit they produce at market and have found a respect and importance in their families and their villages that is critical for their survival.
She created a foundation in her mother’s memory that supports a blossoming group of girls and boys, many of them orphans, who are going to school and love learning and spending time with Esther and her menagerie of dogs, horses, goats and other animals. She was never held back by lack of financial resources or the complicated African political climate or fear of terrorism. She moved forward with each new project in a blaze of love and a belief that God and good people would help her make it happen. And it always did, beyond everyone’s expectations.
This is the second time in recent months that I have experienced the sudden loss of someone close to me that I admired and loved. My wise friend, Grandmother Nancy, tells me that the Creator is calling back some of his best warriors right now to shine the light and help all of us from the other side. I will hold that thought tightly today, sending love and whatever else I can give to help Esther’s sister, Miriam, and her family, the children and the animals that also loved this brave, beautiful woman so much.
If you want to learn more and contribute to Esther’s efforts, please go to the Bettan Garvi School Initiative https://www.facebook.com/bettangarvischool?fref=ts and the Eden Foundation https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eden-Foundation/113108192121213?fref=ts