Sunday, August 21, 2011

Where the Big Dipper Leads

A little 2-year-old girl in my village who is very malnourished.
I have taken her on as a project to educate parents (and of course
so she does not die) about which foods to feed children. I have started 
her on a mixture of peanut butter, milk powder, and honey to jump start 
her along with some veggies and other proteins. Also I am trying to find
 moringa tree powder to show how it can really help heal her! 
Hopefully in about two months this 
picture will look very different!
The sounds of a hard life reverberate here.  However, today, on this Sunday morning, the wind blows and villagers dance to forget their hardships for a few hours!  I smile knowing that giving up absolutely everything (even my car) to get back to Africa has blessed me beyond what I could have ever imagined! 

I am in a small village in Zambia where I am the “first white” as they call me.  Last January I found myself volunteering as a nurse in the government run bush clinic.  I am not with an organization (I know… hard to believe) but totally on my own!  I have progressed from the clinic to also holding weekly community meetings.  My overall goals are to improve nutrition and to empower the villagers to make their own way!  I have been living off of my  personal savings and it has been worth every penny!
Whew… I have a million stories running through my head to tell you!
After a brief unexpected visit to the states for bladder/ureter surgery, I am blessed to be back with projects in full swing!  By the way, I am totally fine now!  Thank you for your continued prayers!
My second meeting after being back in the village!
 Everyone is very excited about the upcoming opportunities!
Workin' on the hut! Everyone is welcome to come visit!
The next couple of months will be busy with farming and sewing workshops, beekeeping, rabbits, moringa trees… and best of all - the building of a community center!  Even though I really didn’t want to go home there was a plan in the works better than I could have ever imagined!  My first weekend in Georgia, I found out that my 6th grade teacher’s husband wanted to meet with me.  It turns out that he leads an awesome construction team to build orphanages, community centers, and other buildings in 3rd world countries all over the world!  After several meetings we are in the beginning stages of planning for a community building for my village.  I am excited!
Waiting for me when I came back last week were a hundred very excited children and a hut almost finished!  Yep… I get to live in a mud, thatch roofed hut in Africa!  It’s a dream come true!
Mox and Biston putting the roof on my hut!  
While I was in the USA, some money and concrete had to be borrowed from my village neighbor, Mr. Mbewe, for my hut construction.  Of course, I was eager to repay Mr. Mbewe as soon as possible.  After rushing to town to get concrete packets, I went to him to make my returns.  As we started talking he asked me, “Why do you rush to return things?  If you have everything how are you going to really get to know your neighbor?  People borrow when they don’t have something themselves.  Then when someone else does not have what they need he feels comfortable going to you to ask for it.  That is how we get to know each other.  We depend on each other and cannot survive without our neighbors.”  Mr. Mbewe left me with a question: “Does having everything I need hinder my relationships with others?” 
Many times I have denied food to people when they have asked because I am concerned that everyone will start coming to ask me for something to eat.  In reality, I should give and then go ask my neighbors for sugar or butter so I can get to know them.  The idea makes sense and it is probably why we in the States are so isolated from each other.  We have everything we need.  Are we better or worse as a result of “having it all”?
Inside my hut! Simple, but warm! 

Scouting out a place for the community center with Mox
 and the Subchief. Pretty sure we are getting this
 spot with mango trees surrounding it!!
The last night in my village, before going back to the States, was magical and I was given a sign from the heavens that I would be back….
Just chillin...
Here in the southern hemisphere the big dipper sometimes looks like it is pouring out…and this one night it did!  The night was black with the stars in their full glory since the moon had not yet shown its’ face.  My friend, Taylor, and I laid back on the bare dirt foundation of my hut.  Staring at the sky, Taylor told me to take it all in one more time because I would probably be gone for a while.  As I took it in the view, he pointed, “There - you won’t see that again until you get back to Zambia!”  I asked, “What is that?”.  He replied, “The Southern Cross!”.  “Seriously?!”  I’m pretty sure I replied. I have always had a group of freckles on my neck that almost formed the shape of the Little Dipper.  I would sometimes look at those freckles in the mirror and wish they could move just a bit to make the a perfect Dipper...but on this night I realized the shape of my freckles is not a Little Dipper, but that of a perfect Southern Cross! 
That moment I knew it was meant for me to be here for a while longer. I would get back to this village.  I felt peace.  There is mystery in the sky.  Stars have led people from the beginning of time.  This is my time so for now I will continue to look, listen, and then follow my heart in Zambia.

Willard Colston, a Habersham native who started a seed research center in
 Zambia, and his cousin Ms. Hunt, my 7th grade science teacher!
We went on a safari through the national park!

My favorite feather... I think of a guinea fowl.

Biston, one of my hard working men in my community!