Monday, November 17, 2008

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

As a group of 25 Americans we got on our bus and went to visit what is called a compound. In America we would call it the slums. Imagine hundreds of tiny African homes crammed together, with people everywhere. We felt like celebrities as we arrived and the children chased our bus chanting "Muzungoo, Muzungoo" (white person). See it for yourself.
video

We got off the bus and I quickly learned why Heather loves Africa so much. We were surrounded and loved by the children. Heather was a hoot as the children swarmed around her and she had them singing "The Princess Pat" with all the actions. It was a joy to see.
I too enjoyed playing games with these children and teaching them the songs that I had taught children in my music class back home. I loved the universal language of music that helped transcend the language and cultural differences. The children were so eager to love and I was so grateful to love them in return. They are beautiful children. I can't imagine what each one of them has been through. It was amazing how we were able to bring joy to the children of this compound and it didn't cost a thing.


We had the opportunity of going into the homes of some of these people. We were asked not to bring our cameras so you will just have to imagine the very small, humble homes. In one of these homes I met a mother who was caring for her 15 month old baby who had AIDS. She is the same age as my little Holly. Holly has so much of life yet to live. This baby won't make more than a few more years. How can there be such a difference?

In another home was a mother with her three children. The mother was dying from AIDS and it had become the responsibility of the 6-year-old daughter to care for the 3 and 1 year old siblings. The daughter would strap her 1-year-old sister to her back and continue to try to live her life as a child. She must have been a noble spirit before she came to this earth to be given such a huge responsibility on this earth. I wondered how many of these children I met were also raising their siblings, trying to make sure their needs were met.

In another home was a 17-year-old who is raising her 2-year-old and 9-month-old babies. She doesn't have the means to care for them. And in another home was a woman who had lost her leg. We brought her some yarn and she beamed with gratitude that she would be able to make something with this yarn that she could sell and then have just a little bit to sustain her. Amazing what just a small bit of yarn can mean to someone.

After visiting their homes a lunch was provided for the children of the compound. The line was endless as the kids waited for their small amount of porridge. I could not believe how patient they were as they waited their turn. No one complained at the lack of variety. They were all so grateful for the chance to eat. Many of them would only get this one meal for that day and maybe for days to come. One of my favorite things was listening to the children sing songs to us. The first is the kids singing their ABC's and the second is a song praising their Lord. People in Africa are always singing praises to God. I love it. Such a great lesson for Americans.
video

video

We also visited the home of this sweet Grandma. Her children had died and she was left to take care of her orphaned grandchildren. When Mothers Without Borders found her she was living in a makeshift home similar to the one in the picture below. She has since had a home built for her and praises God for what she has been given. She prayed and knew that God would deliver. The thing I loved most about this Grandmother was her awesome sense of humor. She laughed the entire time we were with her. She has taken her difficult life and continued to smile through it all. She said her smiles dry up her tears.
The following pictures are scenes that we saw over and over again. Dirty, beautiful children. Women carrying water on their heads. Babies strapped to the backs of children or mothers. Despair and Joy. All part of one big Whole that is Africa.

13 comments:

Stephanie said...

What a beauituful post. I LOVE the addition of video. Especially the ABC's. What I wouldn't give to have a few Zambians in my music group. I'm looking forward to all of your Africa posts.

Stacie Raddatz said...

Love the videos. Just brings us right there. And it is weird to see YOU in the pictures now and not Heather. Grandma has aged so much in just a year. I'm glad she smiles. The Lord has kept her here for a reason. Keep the posts coming.

Mirm said...

I love that you and Heather have something to share that can never be taken away from the two of you. I do however want a picture of that nasty monkey that bit you and Chloe!! She told me all about it. Great times.

Rachel said...

Heidi, I have so enjoyed your posts about your trip. You are the perfect person to go on a trip like this, you are so strong and such an inspiration. I'm afraid I wouldn't last long after seeing the things you have. I hope we get a chance to talk about it soon!

Breezy said...

What a beautiful and troubling world. I love your insight and it truly makes me want to give more love to those around me. I have wanted to ask you "how was Africa" but it felt like that question couldn't convey wanting to know your thoughts and experiences. I too am glad you can blog and give us a small insight into the lives you had a moment to touch.

Tami said...

Thank you for sharing all your amazing stories and insight. I love that you got to experience Africa and it's wonderful, faithful people. What an inspiration!

Can't wait to see you soon.

Elisabeth said...

Thank you for sharing. I hope its okay that I linked to your blog from mine. I think your posts need to be shared with others (only my friends/fam read my blog)If not let me know.

Emily A. Gunderson said...

Absolutely amazing. I've always admired you and Heather both...

Dad said...

I need to say more later, but for now just a quote from one of our countries greatest poets. Maya Angelou, an african-american woman and poet laureate of the United States made the following statement: "I will forget what you say to me, but I will never forget how you made me feel." And then, my favorite: "How wonderful how life touches life, and how boundless the influence."

Dad said...

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Maya Angelou
I had to do this great woman justice by getting it right.

hedrad said...

Thank you for being willing to tell the stories that are so difficult to share. You're so good as saying the right words.

Sarah said...

I found your blog through Stephanie. Thank you for sharing your experience and the pictures of those beautiful children. It made me want to cry looking at their faces and reading the stories. I'm so glad you got to go and show them love. It makes me want to go.

Tonya said...

I read your stories and look at your pictures and it all seems surreal. I really do want to experience it all one day for myself. Wow.