Monday, November 17, 2008

Working on the Land

First I need to explain just a bit about "The Land" so that you can appreciate these pictures. Kathy's vision for Mothers Without Borders is wonderful. Her goals are to strengthen families, empower women and protect children. She has recently purchased land that will help her meet these goals. Currently, she is renting a small farm home where 20 orphaned children are living. The new land will provide an even better home for these children and will allow for even more children to be part of the program. Eventually she plans on having small homes on the land where a woman will care for so many children. Also on the land will be a school, trade centers, and caretakers homes and the entire community will feed into these programs. I look forward to watching the growth and the good that comes from this vision. We spent a few days working on the land and I was amazed at the different spirit I felt on the property. There is so much heartache and sadness in that country. I felt like this bit of land was a sacred place of peace and hope. I loved my days there.

I first want to introduce you to the caretakers wives, Mabel and Miriam. These two lovely women live on the land and make sure the men who work there get their lunch. Of course, they have many other jobs as well. I loved going into their homes and getting to know them. Miriam is the one with the hat. She is only 18 and speaks very little English but that didn't stop her from sharing her love with us. Mabel is older and has diabetes. She is in a country where care for such a disease is difficult. I worry how she will control her illness. Both of these women are full of life and were a joy to be there with. Heather is planning on spending a year in Zambia getting the school going and will be living on the land. She already has her two Zambian sisters waiting to love her.
Here is Miriam mixing the nshima for lunch. In Zambia, they eat nshima for lunch and dinner. It is a cornmeal product that they serve with a relish. They eat it with their hands, rolled into small balls and then they dip it in a relish of beans, chicken, greens, fish and a few other things. Usually only one of these relishes is served with the nshima. I did eat it on a few occasions. Nothing too exciting. Here am I trying to stir the nshima. It's harder than it looks. It is certainly a skill that these women have learned over the years.

This video captures one of those moments that make Africa so unique and wonderful. It's the middle of the day and we are all singing and dancing. That doesn't happen nearly enough in America.

And here we are with Mabel, Miriam and good friend Sarah from Logan, Utah.
Now that I've shown you the fun part of being on the land, I'll get to what we were supposed to be doing when instead we were dancing at Miriam's. The real work was digging a fish pond with shovels and picks. I felt, once again, that we had stepped back in time as they handed us shovels and picks and told us to go dig a fish pond. When have you ever been asked to dig a fish pond with a shovel!!

We also got to help dig trenches for pipes and septic tanks, or you could call it a human manure pit-as one of the Zambian's fondly referred to it as. I helped dig this septic tank until we hit the rock half way down. Then I was done. The Zambians continued to pick at this whole for days. Here they are taking a break eating sugar cane that Heather brought for them. She was always so thoughtful to bring it for them. Any time I showed up and Heather wasn't around, they demanded to know where she was. They call her "Nikokonda" which means "I love you" because she is always telling everyone how much she loves them. Here I am helping make bricks for the future homes of the children. I don't know that I was really much help but I loved the opportunity of working with these men. And I was so glad that Mothers Without Borders is providing jobs for them. Ninety-percent of men in Zambia are un- or underemployed in Zambia, meaning they don't have a steady job. I was glad that these men were given the opportunity to earn money to help support their families. Some walk or bike up to 4 miles to get to work. They live in the compounds and villages in very small homes. Many of their wives walk long distances to get water every day. Most of these men were only able to finish 2-6 years of schooling because their families couldn't afford for them to do any more. This is common in Zambia. Maybe it is because of this that they are such humble, good men. I was grateful for the chance to work with them and to here their stories.
I still can't get over how slow the building process is in Zambia. They don't have the big machinery to quickly do the job for them. And often, there is not enough financing-it is dependent on donors. But there is a desire to accomplish something great and it felt good to be part of this. Here is our team standing in front of the Oasis (the bathroom). A team before us painted it. I loved working beside all of these amazing people. I was so lucky to spend a few weeks with them. Thanks team!!
And here is Heather standing in front of the foundation for her future school. It's neat to think that she might have a part in such a great thing-and a chance to eat all the sugarcane she could ever want!


Dad said...

Well, it is late and we are off to Crater Lake tomorrow. I suppose the fact that my eyes are very watery right now is testimony of my gratitude that two of my daughters have had the opportunity of spending time with these special people. I simply can't imagine it and yet it is so wonderfully true. I hope there will be many more Africa blogs to follow, I never get enough of hearing about these incredible people.

hedrad said...

I'm with Dad on the fact that it's late but I'm having a hard time pulling myself away from Africa. Heidi, you have a incredible ability to tell the stories that need to be told the way they should be told. Thank you again for the time you're spending on these posts. They will be cherished forever.

Breezy said...

What a legacy to have a part in. I still get emotional everytime I watch the video of the African singing to my parents and I wasn't even there. They have such a spirit about them, such feeling in their music.

Stacie Raddatz said...

Does anyone sleep these days? I guess not - looking at the comments thus far. It is those Africans we are thinking about... Thanks for the post. I could have read-on forever. It really helps me gain perspective.

Roberta said...

Wow, great pics. I could have never done that! I think about pioneer times...working the land and I think to myself "I could have NEVER lived during those times." But I have a feeling they are up there saying the same thing about us, "Boy I could never live in those times!" For different reasons of course. Good for you to sacrifice your time and talents to those wonderful people. Your words truly are inspiring.

Robin said...

LOVED the video clip.

Stephanie said...

I loved it, I love it! The videos are so great, I'm happy that you can put those on here. The other day on my hike I had the urge to sing, and I thought of the Africans, and I SANG!! There are great inpiration for so many things. Thank you also for the detailed descriptions of what you are doing. I love to know what goes on, so I appreciate it. Keep em coming!