WE ARE POWERFUL: A Lesson I Learned Meeting Grandma Tekela in Zambia

Volunteer kneeling and hugging a Zambian grandmother on the floor.

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from indomitable will.” – Mahatma Gandhi

I met Grandma Tekela just over a year before she passed away. Thankfully, we manage to stay in contact before she passed due to her having access to a senior phone. As this nice infographic shows, even the elderly can use cell phones. This beautiful soul taught me more than I ever thought I could learn from someone who didn’t speak any english.

tekela-1She had faced more adversity than anyone I had previously met, yet when our team arrived at her home, we were greeted with dancing & laughter – not what I expected from a 90-something-year-old! She has just returned home from “picking”. She would walk to the landfill and search for things of value that could be sold. Then she would take whatever money she earned to get food for her family. They often went days without food.

Throughout her life she would care for others, as mother & grandmother, but she would also often house orphaned or otherwise vulnerable children within her community. Despite the adversity of being robbed & beaten close to death, she chose to hold on to her faith, always knowing & trusting that her God knew who she was, what she was troubled with, & how to comfort her.



This remarkable being gave me some of the most precious gifts that I will keep in my heart forever. She taught me about forgiveness, about humor, about divinity. Her example is one of my greatest sources of inspiration & my faith.


I know without a second thought, that who we are is powerful, able, & even limitless beings. Because of Grandma Tekela’s sweet spirit & endless persistence, I know that no matter what life hands me, I have everything I need within me to help me navigate through this journey with grace, love, & compassion. This to me is a piece of the miracle of grace.


I will always love her. To me she will always be the embodiment of perseverance, strength, grace, hope, resilience, compassion, truth, authenticity, & love.


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