Stephan Mattner

Business Engineer

To get to know me, I would like to take you and you into a situation in which I got to know myself anew. A few days of summer vacation to sort out thoughts and get out. The hotel is located on the beach, I sit with my beloved wife Sandra at the dinner table for two. After much splashing and playing in the sea, our little son Elias is already asleep. My mood after this day is super. But I am interrupted. A magician sets up his table in front of us hotel guests. It is a colored man in his mid/late sixties. His white short sleeve shirt will be his only one. The vest pulled over it is dirty and too big. Unpleasant odor fills the air. He starts his magic performance and it is really terrible. Some of the utensils used are full of holes, the tricks are poorly executed and the dove out of the hat comes out of a cardboard box and has hardly any feathers left. His two adult daughters frame the program with dancing and singing. My mood sinks rapidly downhill. I catch myself as my thoughts roll over: “does this have to be now?” and “how pointless”. While I am still busy with myself, my wife catches me: “How do you see this man and his two daughters? Every night they offer their show to rich white people. Every night they have to radiate happiness and joy. Although they probably live in the worst conditions in the slum. See how old their tools are?”

I’ve been living in East Africa myself now since July 2018, and I know these performers have probably been wearing their only work clothes for many years. I also now know that only the “wealthy” slum dwellers afford the communal showers in the slum. I become sad and feel deeply touched.

In addition, I now also know that this man’s daughters have at least made it. For them, going into poverty prostitution is only plan B. These are the two worlds in which I live. I am an entrepreneur in East Africa. I meet with embassy deputies and Kenyan businessmen. And I do this for the women and girls that no one sees and no one wants to work for them.

In one world, I am an industrial engineer and represent our companies in East Africa as an owner. The other world of my life is in the midst of broken hearts, dashed hopes and is fully described by two sentences, “I sell my body out of poverty, that’s all I have. Please don’t judge me.”

So more and more I find myself asking: are you willing to see the people around you through the same eyes through which God sees them? A phrase that inspires me greatly is, “You have only one life to give away to people.” (Mother Teresa) This has become the impetus of my actions. This is my motivation. This was the reason to follow Jesus to Kenya when he promised me, “Come follow me.”

Sven Greisert

Irene Mwangi

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