Sunday, March 11, 2012

Comfort in the Rain

Can you believe it... this is Moringa Girl #1! My mom sent her some goodies!
She is doing great! Her parents are so happy to see her healthy!

The rain hasn’t stopped drenching my view for the past hour… life here stops when it rains. The women doing peace work join me inside my hut to plat my hair. Plating is a technique of using string to make a million Pippi Long Stocking braids come out of my head. To my surprise I realize that one of the women, Angela, is afraid of the rain. She immediately went inside my house when the thunder made its’ abrupt presence. We all notice a couple of the usual raindrops leaking from my ceiling and move to avoid them. Angela tells me she is going to have to sleep with wet blankets tonight. Her entire house will be full of mud and rain. I guess I would fear heavy rains too if I had to worry about my six children and everything I owned being wet. 

Lesjoy (name appropriate) who we found at one of the under 5's. We added her to the
malnutrition program held every Friday. Her parents received a bottle of moringa
 and teaching on what types of foods the child needs.
This is a picture of life here, but people suffer together. Don’t pity my second family. Pity takes away power. People have worked so hard for what they have and are proud to host me in their homes. If I were to go into a house and say “this is so small and you don’t even have a bed to sleep on”; the owner would immediately feel shame for what they don’t have. Instead I tell them how beautiful their home is and how honored I am to be invited over for dinner at such a nice place. Delighted smiles fill the face of the owner. More power is given to them! 

My village enjoys, laughs, and shares the little food on their plates when a neighbor does not have any. They even cry together. My Grandmother Daisy died in February. Her death was sudden, although not a surprise, since she was to reach her 90th birthday in June. I got an email from my parents saying she was in an irreversible coma on a day children were playing outside (which is almost everyday) and women were cooking breakfast for Rachael and I. I couldn’t talk because I was in a state of shock with tears streaming down my face. Rachael and I retreated to the river in front of my house to remember my grandma. 

Get ready for one of the best aspects of my new community…The day my American family had a memorial service for my grandma in the States; my Zambian family planned one here. The community put the service together in two days time while I was in town. I arrived at 4pm on February 15th to my hut and people were already showing up to mourn with me. The service started at the exact same time as the one in the States so ours began at night. The executive community board members opened the service. I can’t remember who said this next statement, but it was powerful.  About 50 people sat in my front yard with candles as I heard; “This is a community; when one of us hurts- we all hurt. We come together to comfort each other.” 

Many of the people who came to my Grandma Daisy's funeral! They stayed to be with and comfort me! Basically an awesome community!

Walking down to the river... everyone was singing. My Grandma Daisy would smile knowing how she was celebrated! 

Rachael and I on an adventure in the bush!
Speaking of comforting each other- my best friend Rachael Duckworth has come to hang out and help me in Luamala for three months. I didn’t realize how much I need a companion until now to share the unbelievably heartbreaking to the beyond exciting moments of life!  A couple of nights ago we found ourselves jumping up and down under a brilliant moon in the southern sky after a night of Zambian ceremonies with village women. I get to share the questions I often ponder: am I running things correctly to help the people best or what could I do differently for the better?  Basically, I never want to do this on my own again but I know she has a life in the states. Hmmm….

First workshop in the new community center (not quite finished though) teaching about village banking!
Nelson making rabbit cages out of local materials! 
Happy feeding the rabbits!
As for programs going on - the rabbit-farming workshop was a success! People have realized how successful they can be for a protein source.  As I am writing this, Happy, one of the dedicated community men, is feeding the two rabbits that I have at my house. He and his wife are especially excited about being able to keep rabbits of their own! I told Happy that he could practice rabbit keeping by helping to feed mine. Since we discussed this, he has shown a huge interest and has been here everyday. I pause from writing to take this picture. 

Food demonstration teaching how to cook really nutritious foods! The three community members did everything. I did nothing! The women loved and learned a lot from it! It was put on because of your donations!

The community members and the clinic have joined forces to fight malnutrition. Every child under 5 is supposed to get weighed and given immunizations, if needed, once a month. Three community members have decided to go to each one of these health check-ups to teach the cooking of nutritious food! I have heard nothing but great things from the mothers who have attended these classes!  Next up is a vegetable farming workshop, followed by sewing and fish farming workshops before the month ends! 

Under 5's immunizations of a ton of children!

The community center is finally being finished this week with a celebration to follow! People in the community are so proud of themselves for finishing a dream that they thought would not be reality. Thank you to Jerome and Diane Smith and many other people who have been a part of this project! Now comes the hard part - sustainability! I think I will expand more on this in the next blog. There is so much happening that I could just keep writing for days. For now over and out.
Going deep into the bush to weigh and give immunizations to children under 5. The canter got a little stuck...


  1. Thank you for posting the photo of Moringa Girl #1. I am glad that the Elmo pajamas fit her. I had no idea about size but they look good. It gives me joy to see her looking so healthy and happy! I hope Selestina laughs when the baby doll laughs. It's such a cute little chuckle. I appreciate being a tiny part of your work. Much love to you and Rach!

  2. A stunningly beautiful woman like you out in the bush! Hoping you will be rewarded with success, better than what happened to some of the children in my Saharan village. They, because of their relationship with me, are now targets to become hostages of Alqaida Maghreb for ransom.

  3. I am truly blessed to have such inspirational friends. I hope you know how much I look up and admire you and Rachael. I love and miss you!! Brooke