Sunday, November 16, 2008

Julius Village

"I never look at the masses as my responsibility. I look only at the individual. I can love only one person at a time. I can feed only one person at a time. Just one, one, one. I picked up one person-maybe if I didn't pick up that one person I wouldn't have picked up the others. The whole work is only a drop in the ocean. But if we don't put the drop in, the ocean would be one drop less. Same thing for you. Same thing in your family. Same thing in the church where you go. Just, one, one."

Mother Teresa

While in Africa, I spent a day with the masses in Julius Village. For us to get there required driving on a dirt road that was filled with massive rocks. The people who live in the village are squatters. The land was free and they have put up their huts to live there. They are miles from stores, medical facilities, schools. Water is very hard to come by. These were the poorest people I met with while in Africa.

I felt at such a loss as I saw people living in such hard circumstances and realized there was so little I could do for them. All I could do was focus on the one. So I spent the day trying to love whoever I could. I was touched by this little guy who wore PJ's for his clothes. I thought of Connor at home, who must have been the same age, who had his own Batman PJ's plus about 6 others pairs of PJ's not to mention the clothes that we can't even cram into is drawers. I'm sure this outfit might have been the only one this boy had. All the children in the village had clothes that were dirty and torn. The children were also very dirty, water is scarce, and in their own way they are torn.
One of the bright moments of the day was the opportunity to sing with this man. I don't know his name but I know that his heart is good. He came to me with a hymnbook in hand and begged me to sing with him. He had a gorgeous voice. I can only imagine what he could do with his talent hear in America. He asked me every question that he could think of about music and it occured to me how spoiled we are to study music. In a country like Africa, there is no time or money for such a luxury. Yet the desire is to learn is just as great.
I also was able to help serve the meal that was provided that day. Mothers Without Borders brought the food and the women in the village prepared it for the children.
I fought back tears the entire time I served these precious children. We washed their hands and then gave them a small bowl of nshima, cabbage and kapenta (a small, crunchy, dried fish).
I can't even imagine the fight my kids would make if I suggested they eat such a meal.
Yet they graciously ate what they were given. It pained me to think about when their next meal would be. Many of them came back to get more. Their eager eyes will forever haunt me.

At this time I don't have pictures of the clinic we set up in one of these cement, dirt-floored rooms. I will try to get them and add them later. The line outside the clinic remained long the entire day. One after another people would share what ailed them and would be given medicine that would hopefully help. However, the bandages put on the back of the girl with sores all over it, and the bandage put on the girl with a hole on their foot, will fall off and the sores will still be there. After being in this "clinic" I realized that my children's doctor's office would be a palace to these people.

By the end of the day, the children were clingy to the point we almost had to fight them off. These children have to fight for survival and in the process they lose some of that innocence that we see in children. Unfortunately, it is often children such as these who become prey to so many of the evils of the world. They have nothing else to turn to and so when drugs or gangs come along they are just grateful for something to take them away from their loneliness.

The only thing that kept me above water this day, was my frequent visits to the sewing club. Mothers Without Borders helps women develop talents so they can repair their clothes and try to make some extra money. This room was a haven for me and I am sure it is a haven for the women as well. It reminded me that even in the hardest circumstances, the Lord provides tender mercies. I talked to these women, and once again heard story after story of AIDS and death. The woman sitting on the floor in the video below has lost 10 of her children. Her 16-year-old granddaughter has already lost a baby of her own. This very short video is my most treasured of all. When these women broke out into song I felt healed.

And I had to include this video of Heather doing her thing. This is why those Africans love her so much.


Stacie Raddatz said...

Beautiful and touching.

vaxhacker said...

Thanks for sharing this!

Anonymous said...

Heidi - I love to hear about your experiences in Africa. They are so uplifting to me. Thank you so much for sharing - it's important!
- Mackenzie

Stephanie said...

I wish I could watch more of that video with the women singing. It's amazing. And that little boy in the batman pj' It's so crazy to think that there are children over there just like Jaxon who have so little. And that video of Heather is great. She makes me laugh

Darilyn said...

So I'm curious what took you over there. Were you traveling with a specific group? I hopped on over here to your blog from Julie's. I know I've visited your blog before but just thought I needed to say hi again.

brenda said...

I want to see more of that Heather.