Monday, September 17, 2012

Finding Home... Sweet and Simple

I was cleaning my house and the girls decided they wanted to go get the water
before a beautiful sunset!

The soft breeze kisses my gleaming skin and my favorite children are circling me, looking at new-to-them picture books … I am back in my village – and man does it feel good!

Lackson and my friend Angela with some of the veggies he brought me.
First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who has followed this journey and has supported the work in my village, Luamala! There are many key players who have made this all possible… you know who you are and better give yourself a huge hug right now! I hope you are smiling because you are about to read how your faith has planted seeds in a small village far, far away! 

Last week, my village, Luamala, greeted me back right before they held a village-banking meeting. They are doing quite well saving money and loaning it to each other! That night I was pleased when one of the men who built the community center couldn’t wait to bring me some of the veggies he had grown. He had chosen vegetable gardening as his business project with supplies that were provided as a reward for his help with the building project. I learned that five of the other men had great gardens growing as well!

The rabbits are still alive! Happy and his wife have kept them well, however there have been some problems keeping the babies alive. Only couples have survived. I will have to take him and two of the other men to see someone else who is raising them correctly so they can learn by observation.

Ha… the children in front of me are now singing while making hats for themselves out of leaves. They giggle when they realize I can see them.

Lackson's wife, Charity, prepared the veggies and treated me in her house to a traditional meal! They
make it so special!
The malnutrition/breastfeeding/HIV/AIDS program we started at the clinic has taken off! The nurse, Mrs. Mulemba, was so excited to tell me that what we had all started is growing fast! They are even known nationally now and money is being given from IYCF to expand their program. I have been really impressed with how empowered they feel to educate their communities. One out of every four children in Luamala has brain development delays because of malnutrition - a statistic that will hopefully begin to improve!

I am with the malnutrition group the nurse and I started at the clinic. They put on a day of drama and sang for the officials from the IYCF program who came 12 hours from the capital to see how well they are doing! Because of the groups hard work they are going to get funds to be able to help many people in hard to reach places!
These are pictures I gave to the nurse. She made a poster and put it up in the clinic of some of the programs going on! Many are ones some of you helped start because of your donations! Now because they have done well with that, they are being known nationally and it is now sustainable with funds from the IYCF program!

The women have been sewing well since I was in the States! Here they are showing the school uniforms they made. They are actually selling them to the lady in the yellow beads! 
As Nigel said in the last blog, “For us to create history we will face challenges. For it to be meaningful there will be challenges.” It is nice to work with Holland Disabled Association, which is already established and has worked through the initial challenges.  Just like HDA and any other project, the Luamala Community Group has huge obstacles to overcome. 

One problem is the lack of education. Imagine having an entire community of people who have not graduated high school - and most have not graduated elementary school. Another problem is “juju”, or witchcraft, making people wary of each other. Most people consider themselves Christians here, but still believe in African magic and some practice it. (No worries: it is well known it won’t touch white people.) The last, but not least, of problems I will mention is miscommunication. Remember the telephone game? Rumors are like that, but a thousand times worse, in the village where people sit around fires talking all day. I laugh at the rumors when people are kind enough to tell me what is said about me. Even the chief thought I was engaged to one of the men on the Chinese exploration team because I was seen in a car with them as I got a ride to town. I wonder what people think of small cultural things I might do that they are scared to ask me about? Bahahaa!

Well, I have absolutely enjoyed being back! This past summer I was able to take a step back and get perspective. I assigned myself three mentors while in the States from whom to receive wisdom. The first was Jerome Smith, a wise man who has a similar heart to mine and gave me great advice of being wary of criticism from other people regarding MY journey (among many other insights). The second was Anita Roper, a retired missionary who lived in Nigeria for most of of her adult life. I enjoyed talking to her for hours about her experiences and how she has adapted back into a world completely opposite from what she was used to in Africa. Her kind and fiery spirit, as well as the stories of the impact she has made on all ‘her children’, inspire me! 
Ernst Aebi. One of my self assigned mentor I had the opportunity to work for
this past summer in Vermont! Read text for more!

Jerome & Diane Smith. Diane was actually my 6th grade teacher who sent me
to a science camp that changed my life and made me the person I am today.
Jerome is one of my self assigned mentors for the summer! They are
 wearing outfits Mox sent to them!
The last mentor I assigned myself was Ernst Aebi, whom I met on a train in Tanzania last year. I spent a month with him on his farm in Vermont and was able to think through many questions I had continuously asked myself. He had made a quest similar to mine near Timbuktu years ago. He is a quirky man who doesn’t let anyone tell him no. I enjoyed spending time with him and getting insight on what to do when something doesn’t work out the way you expect. 

Once again I remind myself to set my expectations at zero to allow myself excitement about small accomplishments. I remind myself to know mistakes are welcome, pushing fear aside. As I said exactly two years ago… “So I press onward to another day. Another day of learning, finding peace, being content, and choosing happiness. Onward!”

Enjoying the day reading a book with the kids keeping a close eye on me. This is under my kitchen shelter.

The children making leaf hats while I was writing this blog! I was sitting on the
side of my hut. The stick structure to the right is my shower! That's right it's pretty
amazing under a gazillion stars! 
Innocent, my adorable neighbor! 
Miss Anita Roper. Another self assigned mentor for the summer! An amazing lady with beautiful stories
and a whole lot of wisdom!

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