Christian Fiction: Short Story of the Month

The Easter holidays were really tough for her. She had expected that they would be but had always assumed that they would get easier with time. Nonetheless, being in church on Good Friday had taken all her strength not to break down and cry. She had little Freddie seated next to her and so had to keep it together. Nevertheless, with a heavy heart, she watched young couples seated together, sharing secret smiles during the service and leaving church hand in hand. She watched as the family cars drove away as she got in behind the wheel of her car with Freddie by her side.

Maggie and Little FreddieIt was nice to have her son but still, she still wished her husband Mark was still around.
It didn’t make sense to her the way he died. He was a young man, only 30 years old and they had only been married for two and a half years. One day, he had woken up in the morning complaining of a severe headache. A few hours later, Maggie was standing at the hospital in utter shock as the doctor sorrowfully informed her of her new status as a widow. Brain aneurysm was the documented cause of death. It just didn’t add up. Mark had always led a healthy lifestyle, eating well and working out. In addition, Maggie didn’t understand why his case was untreatable yet there were people living with the same condition. Doctors explained that his condition had been diagnosed late but still, it didn’t make sense to Maggie. Mark had been fine. They were expecting their first baby and had just moved to their own house. Life was looking up for the young couple then suddenly, everything changed.

man plus paged woman
Two years later, Maggie was still grieving. She was having a very hard time trying adjusting to life as a widow. In addition, it broke her heart that Freddie was growing up without ever having met his dad. Family and friends had always tried to be there for her and help her out but it just wasn’t the same. She still slept on her own side of the bed, sometimes in Mark’s t-shirt and would breakdown in tears every time she heard some of their favorite songs playing. grave image
Maggie was lost in her reverie relieving her pain and shock at having lost Mark. The holidays seemed to have brought it all back.
“Maggie… Maggie…” She heard someone tap on her window.
Maggie quickly wiped away her tears and rolled down her window. It was Martha, an elderly woman from the church who had always been so kind to her.old woman
“Are you okay?”

Martha asked as her face creased in concern.

Maggie answered feeling embarrassed at being caught crying

Martha went on to invite her to a special seminar for ladies to be held in the church. Maggie assumed that it was just one of those ladies meeting but she got curious when Martha told her that the seminar was called ‘Ruth’. She knew the Biblical story of Ruth, the widowed Moabite woman who later got married to Boaz. This definitely caught her interest. Maggie promised to attend the seminar.Ruth and Boaz
Saturday was a quiet day for Maggie and Freddie. This was the day that has always been described as the “waiting period”. Christ died on Friday; Saturday was the waiting period before Sunday when he rose again. Maggie quietly wondered if she was going through her own waiting period before things get better again. She couldn’t wait for her Sunday to come.

Life had really changed for her since Mark’s passing. Being in her late twenties, all her friends seemed to be at the stage where they were getting married or starting their own families. Every weekend, there were baby showers and also weddings to attend. However, people seemed to be uncomfortable inviting Maggie to the occasions anymore. Maybe they just felt sorry for her or perhaps they just didn’t want a reminder of how things could just turn around abruptly.


Some people also just didn’t know what to say to her. Whenever they tied to talk to her, they would end up saying the wrong things.

“Wow, I still can’t believe that Mark just died!”
“I wouldn’t be able to live without my husband; I would really rather die honestly.”
“Poor Freddie, being fatherless and all…”

Their pity and sometimes misplaced consolation sometimes made things worse for her and there are moments when she just preferred to be on her own.
She also had a difficult time facing life’s challenges alone. A year after Mark’s death, her mother had a stroke and died. She had been a rock for her during the difficult months after Mark’s death. Having been widowed herself years back, her mother was able to walk with Maggie and encourage her. When she died, Maggie was left feeling alone, confused and angry at life. She was heartbroken and wished that there was someone with her to help her deal with the loss of her mother. She thought of how Mark used to make her feel better during her tough times but now, he was no longer there. Maggie feared that she may not be able to weather life’s storms on her own.index
Now having spent her Saturday indoors, Maggie felt that she and Freddie deserved an outing after church on Sunday. There was a lovely little restaurant with a playground right around the corner from her house. She knew that there would be other families and it may be a tough scene but just the thought of being able to do something fun with Freddie gave her the strength to go out.
They sat at the corner for a while having their lunch. Freddie looked excited to be outdoors and soon Maggie had him at the playground playing with other kids. After a while, she sat down at the bench and watched Freddie with another little boy playing and laughing like with no care in the world. Watching Freddie always made her happy. It was a reminder of the good life that she once had with Mark. He would have been proud of their little handsome boy had he still been around.

“That’s my little Mike…” A voice said interrupting her. “And my name is Tony.”

“Maggie and that is Freddie.”

She said politely pointing at her son who was now chasing little Mike around the park as the pair laughed and screamed happily.
She stole a secret glance at the stranger. He was tall, a little on the skinny side but had nice kind eyes and a lovely smile. He was definitely charming too. Maggie was wary of men ever since Mark died. There were always men hitting on her but she didn’t feel ready to date yet. In addition, she had met all kinds of men who wanted to take advantage of her loneliness, some who were even married.

Man and woman at the park
“Where is his mother?” Maggie blurted out immediately regretting her bluntness.

“I lost my wife a few years back, just me and Mike now.”

He answered without flinching. Maggie was so embarrassed at having asked a stranger such a private question.
They sat for a while watching their children playing and engaging in small talk. They talked about the weather and just random things. He made her laugh and she enjoyed watching him fuss over little Mike every time he fell or called out to him. The afternoon went quite well and Maggie was surprised at just how much she had enjoyed Tony’s company.woman-talking-to-man-happy-faces-54693636
“Hope to see you again Maggie,” Tony said as they parted ways.
Maggie smiled to herself embarrassed to admit that she also hoped to see him again soon. She still felt guilty at times like she was being unfaithful every time she noticed a handsome man. An afternoon with Tony made her feel both guilty and a bit excited at the same time.
However, every time that she thought about dating again, Maggie always assumed that she would have to settle for less. It was hard for a widow to meet great guys especially with a child in tow; well that is what she assumed anyway. She just felt like she was carrying a lot of emotional baggage for someone else to want to be with her. She also couldn’t imagine ever meeting anyone like Mark. He was her soul mate, the man who had always made her laugh and had been her best friend for years. However, she couldn’t help but smile when she thought of little Mike and his dad.huge.1.7909



“Mike is a great playmate, isn’t he?”

She asked her little companion who rewarded her with a chuckle. It seemed that Freddie had also enjoyed his afternoon out and Maggie couldn’t be happier.thumb_COLOURBOX7750874

On Easter Monday, Maggie went back to church and registered for the “Ruth” meeting. She didn’t think about it much after that.

It was in June when the ‘Ruth’ meeting was scheduled. Maggie woke up that day feeling excited about it. She had organized for a babysitter for Freddie so that she could attend the meeting. At the church, Maggie was surprised by the huge turn-out. There were so many ladies at the meeting, all dressed up and looking excited.women talking.jpg

“Good morning ladies…” Martha was there to welcome them all.

The meeting was great with a lovely fellowship that really lifted Maggie’s spirits. The sermon was about ‘second chances’ and it was based on the book of Ruth. The ladies were encouraged about being women of virtue even during their toughest times. The speaker reminded them of how Ruth had stood with her mother in law during her difficult moments after being widowed and loosing both her sons. Ruth was going through her own difficulties of having being widowed but still put her pain aside to be with Naomi. She was ‘hesed’. Her being a woman of virtue with such a great things is one of the things that Boz noticed about her.

illustration_8 by Mike Fentz.jpgThis wonderful illustration was done by Mike Fentz

Ruth 2:11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

Maggie also liked the encouragement that was given to women especially those who were single for whatever reasons. They were told that when they meet the right man, he would come to look for them. He would be unattached and would treat them like they were special.

Ruth 2: 5-8
5 Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?”
6 The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. 7 She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”

8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. 9 Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”

The message made her feel uplifted. Maybe there was someone out there for her. A second chance at love and she wouldn’t have to settle for less than what God had planned for her. After all, Boaz was a good man, wealthy, kind and a good husband to Ruth so she also had hope of meeting her own Boaz someday.

The rest of the meeting went well and the ladies had a great time sharing and laughing together. Maggie was surprised to meet other young ladies some who had never been married while others like her who had been widowed. They all had their own struggles but still had faith of someday meeting their own Boaz. She was glad to make a few more friends who were in the same position as her.

“Did you enjoy the meeting?” Martha asked her afterwards.

“Thank you so much for the invitation, I’m really glad I came.”

“God is with you Maggie and you just need to trust Him more and let him know what you need,”

Martha then surprised Maggie by revealing that she had also been widowed at a young age. It had taken her years before meeting her current husband, Frank and now they were happily married with two children of their own. She encouraged Ruth and prayed with her before leaving.

Leaving the church, Maggie found herself smiling and thinking about the sermon. Mark was her first love and the father of her child and she would always hold his memory dear. However, for the first time in over two years, she felt lighthearted and encouraged.
She also found herself thinking of the past Easter Sunday and the afternoon at the playground. Maggie decided that she would be open to the idea of another play date some day soon. Hopefully, Tony would also be at the playground with little Mike.

Ruth 4:14- Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel!

NB:All illustrations were from google images. All the artists are acknowledge and appreciated. I have also attributed Mike Fentz, whose amazing illustration was not watermarked.



(Lessons from T.D Jakes’ book-” Before you do”  and sermon”Get Beyond the blame games”)

“Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility our own responsibility for the future” John F. Kennedy.

  • Think about what you want in life, your vision for your future. Start taking responsibility for your life. Think about what you need to change so as to achieve your vision and then try and figure out why you have been unable to make these changes so far. Then consider what you would do to deal with these challenges when they come up again in the future, because they will.
  • Change doesn’t come easily; it’s hard to change patterns that you have adapted to over a long period of time. You may decide to take responsibility for your life and start living positively and making the right decision. However this is not easy. Many are the days when you will slip back into old destructive habits. On these days what you need is to get back on your feet, dust yourself and start again. Life is a marathon and not a sprint. Everyday renew your enthusiasm to take responsibility for your life by sitting down and reviewing your list, Pray about it and ask God to help you on your new walk and ask for forgiveness for the days you slip up. Soon you will begin to see your life unfold in ways you never imagined.
  • Decide to take responsibility, Not Blame yourself. Focus on your future and where you are going instead of where you are coming from. When you are driving, concentrate more on the road ahead; don’t keep looking at the rearview mirror at where you came from. You may end up in accident. Develop strategy based on destiny and not history.
  • Taking responsibility for yourself and your actions is a good thing but don’t take it as far as accepting responsibility for other people’s actions. This is unhealthy.
  • Think about all the people or elements that you blame when things go wrong in your life. List them down and absolve them of these blames. Start taking responsibility for yourself.
  • You can change the future if you decide to use today to affect tomorrow. Take responsibility for where you are, where you are going, blaming no one, not even yourself. If you are willing to recognize the vast power that you hold in the choices you make then your life will truly never be the same.
  • EMOTIONS BEHIND TAKING RESPONSIBILITY: When you decide to take responsibility for your life, at first, it won’t be easy. Learning to stop blaming others for everything in your life is a difficult journey but a worthwhile one. At first different emotions will be evoked by making this decision, emotions such as guilt when you think about your objects of blame. Fear, anger and shame for past mistakes are other emotions that you may go through. All these emotions are normal when making change especially drastic ones such as trying to adjust a lifelong way of thinking-to experience a wide range of feelings, good or bad.
  • However you feel, don’t judge yourself. Acknowledge what you are feeling, ask yourself whether your thoughts are rational or just fear talking, then stay fast to your commitment to yourself and stop blaming others and take responsibility for your life.

ImageVery inspirational message from this man of God.

Check out his sermon on Get beyond the blame games


Blame List

In life, it’s always so much easier to blame others for everything that goes wrong in our lives instead of accepting responsibility for the same. However in order to make changes to our lives, we have to accept responsibility for where we are and where we are going.

It’s much easier to blame our bosses for the messes in our careers. If only he paid me better, if only he appreciated me more. Sometimes people go to the extent of blaming their bosses for their inability to secure new jobs. Instead of accepting responsibility for your inexperience or your lack of preparation for an interview that may have cost you the job, it is easier to think that you boss is working behind the scenes to make sure nobody else hires you.

However you need to accept responsibility for your career, if you need to go back to school so as to secure that new job or promotions then do just that. Don’t start blaming the system for setting high academic standards as a job requirement. If you haven’t been sending out applications or being assertive as you ought to be, accept responsibility for that and get out those applications. If you feel that your work environment is not conducive, ask yourself whet you can do to change it. Maybe it’s not as clean as you would want it to be, change that. Maybe your desk isn’t as neat as it ought to be, don’t blame human resources for getting you a small desk, and instead organize your desk. Take responsibility for your career choices, focus on where you started from and what hurdles you had to overcome, instead think about where you would like to go and focus on that.

Don’t stay in an abusive relationship and blame that on your daddy issues or childhood abuse. Accept responsibility for your life, your safe being and happiness. You deserve to be happy and you should learn to prioritize yourself and be responsible for this. Your father may have left when you were young, that was his decision. As hard as it maybe, you need to forgive him and let it go. You could talk to someone about it, get help do whatever you need to do to deal with that issue. Childhood abuse or any other types of abuse most times affect our relationships. However, these too can be overcome. Don’t let your past determine your present and your future. Accept responsibility for your life and get your life straightened out.

Sometimes we blame substances for all our mistakes. People blame alcohol for their marriages not working, for their violent tendencies and for any other hitches in their lives. However, you need to sit down and think about why your marriage didn’t work, alcohol is like a headache. The headache is not the illness but a symptom of an illness. Your anger issues may not be alcohol related, you may need to dig deeper and find out what brings about the outbursts. Your inability to save is not to be blamed on alcohol. It’s your inability to accept responsibility over your finances that keeps you from saving up.

In his book ‘Before you do” T.D. Jakes talks of a “Blame list”. Take some time and think about all the people or elements that you normally blame when things don’t work out in life. Absolve these people of the blame and accept responsibility for the part you play in your own demise. However, don’t extend this to accepting responsibility for other peoples mistakes as this is unhealthy. When you accept responsibility for your present situations, you will learn to accept responsibility for your future.

Note: Over the weekend, i visited my mom. In my old room, there is an old computer that has so many articles that i had done at some point in my life before i started blogging so i had just saved them. I came across this article in my folder and honestly,i don’t remember even writing it. Anyway, it is so beautiful so had to share it.

Monday, Friday…. No Difference!

There is a presidential debate showing in all major stations today at 7:30pm. Due to this fact, I thought of writing about politics and the oncoming elections for this week’s blog. However, after two sentences, I realized that I don’t know what to write about politics. I don’t even know who I am going to vote for yet. So politics, I leave to Mutahi Ngunyi and my many friends now turned political analysts on facebook. However, I definitely plan on watching the debate today. Who knows, maybe I will get something to write after that.

ION, I am having a great Monday. I don’t have the blues that most people do. I woke up today just thinking of this as just another work day and I am having an awesome Monday so far. I already have most of my tasks for the day done. In addition, thanks to my friend Dexter Muthengi, I have some great ol skul music playing. This mix is simply awesome. Right now “Fiesta” by R.Kelly feat.Jay Z is playing and it sure does feel like a Friday here!

Here are some tips on making your Mondays awesome:

Dress for the day

Mondays set the mood for the week. Dress right and this will give you a positive outlook of the week. It will also help in changing your attitude and make you feel better about the day. You don’t have to do very dull colors (unless you are a lawyer). Wear something that looks good and make you feel equally good.

Image Too bright for Monday? i thought not!

Decide to have a great day

Most people simply syk themselves out when it comes to Mondays. Check facebook on Sunday evenings and you will see the “OMG can’t believe it is Monday again” status updates. However, change your attitude and stop thinking of Monday like that. Think about things that can help make your Monday more interesting.

In my case, music did it for me. I woke up listening to music and I still have some playing in the background. This makes the day seem easy and relaxed.

Find something that will make you feel better about the day. Try making lunch or after work plans, maybe that can get you excited about the day.


If you want to have a great Monday, prepare for it. Most people rush out of the office on Fridays like there is a fire. They do no preparations for Mondays and this is where they go wrong. You have to be organized and establish what you want to do on Monday. Clear your desk on Friday too so that you do not have a messy desk waiting for you on Monday morning.

It won’t last forever

Remind yourself that Monday is only a few hours long. Seriously, Monday is just a day like any other and soon it will be Tuesday. So get over it and stop acting like the day has 56 hours or something!

Enjoy your Monday!

High School….

I received a facebook message from an old acquaintance a few weeks ago. Arcadius was someone I knew from University. We also belonged to the same Christian group from Campus called Concert but other than that we don’t talk much so it was quite a surprise to hear from him. He wrote to tell me about this new non-profit organization that he had just started called Career Advisory Center. What the organization does is to have professionals in different fields visit different high schools and give career talks. Arcadius further explained that the talks aim to show the students that to succeed in life in any way; they will also need to have the right values.

I was very happy to get the message and the invitation to be a speaker at these career talks. I felt like it was my chance to give back and most importantly inspire someone. There is nothing as good as knowing that in a way, you are making a difference in the world. It gives your life some sense of purpose. You feel like you are actually doing something meaningful and not merely living. I know it seems like I am placing a lot of significance into it but when you really think about it, you haven’t really lived until you have made a difference in the world or in someone’s life. Or at least tried to…

So anyway, I had my 1st high school visit last Saturday at Gitwe girls. In Barney Stinson’s words, I suited up and looked the part of a successful career woman, if I may say so myself. To be frank, I may have been a little overdressed but then again, I had decided to go all the way. I woke up very early in the morning and met the rest of the professionals in town before 8am. We had writers, journalists, architects, lawyers, hospitality professions, graphic designers, engineers, accountants, publicists, bankers, lecturers and businessmen and women. It was a good and impressive mix of young professionals.

Long story short, we were well received at Gitwe girls both by staff members and the students. I truly believe that the talks we gave were inspiring to the girls. It was interesting seeing them participating, asking all kinds of questions and even sharing their dreams and ambitions with us. In my group, there are quite a number of girls who made an impression on me. There was this one girl who was really fascinated by investigative journalism. However, I think she also wanted to be a doctor or rather felt that she should be one. It took us a long time trying to explain to her how it may be a little difficult to be in both professions due to the demanding nature of both careers. At the same time, we had to ensure not to discourage her and therefore, we explained to her that anything is achievable and if she really wanted to do that, she could.

There is another girl who said that she had wanted to be a reporter since she was a child. I really felt connected to her. Not because of the reporter bit but because she reminded me of myself at that age. Like her, I was skinny, awkward and had a huge problem maintaining a good hairdo (my hair was always looking windblown even when there was no wind) but I was still a dreamer. I knew that I loved to write even from a young age.

There was another girl who also reminded me of myself. She loved to write and explained that she could write about anything even if not related to schoolwork. She described herself as being creative with an active imagination. Her story brought a smile to my face, that girl was me and still is me. I write about random things, I write to clear my thoughts, I even write instead of to talking to friends. I write down what I would have said in a conversation with a good friend. I even write down my prayers instead of saying them at times. That girl reminded me of me. I truly hope that she will not give up on her dreams but will live to see them turn to a reality.

There was another girl who told me that she has been writing a book. This also reminded me of myself. I wrote one too when I was in primary school. I wish I had kept it with me. I would give anything just to see what Diana was really thinking about those days. They say, at that young age, we don’t have inhibitions and are more expressive. I really wish I could get that book back. However, that ship has sailed but not for this girl. I truly hope that her book will see the light of day in being published and that she will go far with her writing.

There was another girl who wanted to be a radio presenter. She described herself as being talkative and true to that, she really had a lot to say and managed to keep things very lively. However, she was worried about the part that looks play in ensuring a successful career. She believed that industries such as the Media, only work with people with good looks. The whole class seemed to agree with her. There was even one “Mukorini” girl who told us of how she had to leave the Journalism club because her peers convinced her that she could never become a journalist with her clothing and the religious headgear. It was discouraging to hear all these and see young girls already discouraged even before they got out of school. We talked to them and tried to convince them that they can achieve their dreams no matter what. I truly hope that we managed to change their thoughts a little bit.

I have a lot of things that I could write about those girls and also the young professions that I met. I was inspired by Arcadius leaving his job and starting an organization that tackles an issue he is passionate about. He took a risk, followed his dreams and now, he is making things happen and making a difference. In the group, everyone touched me in a way. There was Mike, a journalist who is very passionate about his work; he also knew from a very young age what he always wanted to do. There was Gloria, another writer who I truly connected with. There was Janet and Eddy, the couple who went into business together. Everyone had an inspiring story and I am truly grateful to God and to Arcadius for allowing me to be part of that experience.

I know this post is too long but there are a few things that I thought about while I was at Gitwe girls. If I could go back to high school knowing what I know now, this is what I would change:

  • I would be more appreciative of my English and Kiswahili teachers who used to really encourage me in my writing. I remember one teacher used to read out my compositions every time in front of the class. She would then encourage me to participate in class more. In my young naïve mind, I thought she was picking on me.”Why can’t she ask someone else to do it today?” I always wondered. I resented her for all the attention she gave me, right now; I wish I could just get a chance to thank her. She saw something in me and tried to make me a better person.
  • I would be more focused in general. I used to think that going to school was just something one had to do like a social norm of some sorts. I would be invested this time though. I would study hard even when the teachers were not around. I would still read novels in class under the desk but then again, I would cut the time spent in other time wasting activities.
  • I would stop hiding my passion for writing and stop treating writing as a hobby as I focused on more “serious” careers such as being a lawyer. For a long time, I thought I should be a lawyer and was truly fascinated by the profession. I didn’t have an interest in law really. I simply thought it was one of those careers that successful people went into. Lucky for me, I never attained to cut off marks to get into law school after high school.
  • Another random thing I wish I knew is that I wouldn’t be skinny forever. It seems like a stupid thing to even say but being in high school and looking straight and flat like a little boy without any curves was difficult. I used to envy the other girls who looked more like girls or rather, young women. Right now, I am struggling with weight loss and desperately trying to get rid of my curves which are now a bit too much. If I lose weight and someone ever tells me that I look straight and flat like a little boy, I would hug them tightly and thank them with everything I have .I miss being skinny!
  • I wish I knew that the boy I was dating was just the first one. There would be more of them, good looking ones who say the right words and some who lie a lot. In high school, I really thought I would marry my then boyfriend. He was my world then and I remember treating his letters like treasures, spending hours daydreaming or talking about him. I also used to use all my coins over the holidays standing at the phone booth for hours talking to him. 100 heartbreaks later, I am wiser (I hope I am) and I know puppy love is just that.
  •  I would appreciate my parents more and listen to the advice that I got back then. I used to think that grownups didn’t really know much about teenagers. They didn’t get us. I thought their advice was outdated. Now, I know better.
  • Another random thought, I would sit back and enjoy being young. I would stop rushing to getting older.  In addition, I wish I knew that school uniform is just school uniform. uniform worn on a regular Monday, uniform worn on visiting day, uniform worn on closing day and especially uniform worn when the boys school was visiting. It is just uniform and frankly, only your peers know the difference. This would save me a lot of times spend on taking care of my special occasion’s uniform.

Oh the worries that I had back then seem so trivial now. Most of the things that used to worry me would not worry me anymore. Being a teenager is supposed to be simple. If I knew that then, I would sit back, go to school and study and simply be what I was expected to be, a teenager.

As I conclude this really long post, I want to thank Arcadius once more for the opportunity. At the same time, if you are reading this and want to get a chance to give back by being a speaker at the career days, talk to me and I will link you up with Arcadius. If you also deal with organizations that give sponsorships to students to pursue higher education, also let me know. If you have any ideas or would like to help Career Advisory Centre in anyway, please also let me know. Make an effort to make a difference. You never know, you may just be responsible for inspiring young people (or even just one person) to make the right choices that will greatly impact positively on their future lives.