Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Go to the people

I'm not usually one to post lyrics or poems, but this poem struck me. It's simple, almost 3,000 years old, and the message is beautiful.

Go to the people,
Live with them,
Learn from them,
Love them.
Start with what they know,
Build with what they have,
But with the best leaders, when the word is done, the task
The people will say,
We have done it ourselves.
~Lao Tsu

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Three of our favorite people

Have I ever introduced you to these three very special people? These are our friends Eunie and Eunice, who are identical twins, and Gradually, their nephew.

We've gotten to know these kids very well over the last few months, taking them shopping periodically, having sleepovers occasionally, and generally eating ice cream as often as possible. We love to make them smile! Eunie and Eunice just turned 18 years old. They live in a government-built block house with two bedrooms. Their parents died years ago, and they had an older sister (my age) who was taking care of them until she passed away too a couple of years ago, leaving her son Gradually (now 7 years old) in their care. They have an older brother who is going to University, but he lives very far away. The girls love to sing gospel and R&B, they're very active in their church, and their leaders in the Masoyi Home-based Care Bible Club. Gradually is very shy, but he loves soccer, pizza, and hugs (especially from Jed).

We've had some adventures with these kids as well. When their house was broken into in the middle of the night by a 17-year-old neighbor in December, the girls reported the incident to the police. That turned into riding with about 8 policemen and women to arrest the guy, hours waiting in the police station (where the police told us originally that they couldn't file charges since the guy didn't rape anyone, just threatened to), and later on a full, pointless day in court and lots of confusion!

Other adventures have been more fun, like playing games, making pizzas together (an activity that completely flopped in their eyes I think, but I enjoyed), avoiding Buhle at all costs, and jumping on the trampoline (which never gets old).

We have been so blessed to know Eunie, Eunice, and Gradually. I pray that they feel loved, that they don't despair, that they stay out of trouble and in school, and that they take good care of each other. Please keep them in your prayers as well!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Few Simple Stories...

A few simple stories from someone else's life.

This is a blog entry from one of our newest volunteers, Louise. She wrote it after her community stay where she stayed with a 14yr old girl Lorraine and her two younger brothers Clarence and Remember who are 9 and 8. We follow all of our volunteers blogs because we love to hear how they tell their stories to people who might never get to see what they have seen. Louise is an excellent writer and can communicate things through her words like few bloggers I have ever read. Most people use pictures to tell their stories, and I think it is very telling that Louise has yet to post a photo on her blog since coming to Africa. If you get a chance, read her post. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

We are together

On Tuesday we drove a couple hours away to visit 6 child-headed households. We were trying to set up community stays for 5 volunteers...just a chance for one American, three Canadians, and one Brit to spend a weekend living in the village with some kids, most of whom have lost their parents to HIV.

It was a rough day. Three of the families live in tiny houses, maybe 7' by 9'. Two of those have dirt floors. One family we visited is headed by a granny, and old OLD granny caring for 6 grandchildren who lost their parents, presumably to HIV. The oldest is a 20 year old boy, and the youngest is about 1 year. (His mother died when she was still breastfeeding him.) The granny was in a lot of pain, and she was worried that the youngest wasn't walking yet. Something didn't seem quite right about his legs. The last family we visited lived in a nice house, but the girl we met was 11 years old and taking care of her 9 and 6 year old brothers. She had no auntie or granny to even stop in and make sure they're okay. Man. That is rough stuff.

Anyway, it's not the kind of thing we see every day. It's a good thing, because we couldn't handle it. (I feel a little weird admitting that. It seems wimpy in a way...she's 11 and it's her LIFE, you know? Every day, no breaks.) It's not what God wants for her, I'm sure of that. He wants us to do more.

Anyway, didn't mean to be such a downer. It's definitely easier not to blog about the tough stuff. But when I don't, I can hear a tiny little Abby voice in my head telling me I should just do it anyway, even if nobody like's to comment on the tough blogs.

I am very excited for the 5 young people staying out there this weekend--they're all in their 20s. This is experience is going to blow them away...change their lives without a doubt. I can't wait to hear about it. And they will be such a source of encouragement for those families, who need somebody to tell them (as Carlos would say), we are together.

Monday, February 2, 2009

School shoes

When Kim and Mike were here in May, they visited a village in the middle of nowhere with some of my coworkers. They made a donation to the home-based care there (through Hands at Work), which we used to buy school shoes for 22 children. Isn't that cool?! Here are a few photos:

Vusi is calling out the names of the children who are on the list to get shoes--so many are poor, but only the neediest will get shoes

Making sure they fit

One happy kid

The shoe store had a promotion--if you bought a pair of school shoes and shoe polish, you got a free little radio that looked like an ipod. We didn't buy any polish, but they gave us 22 radios anyway. It was very cool...I think the kids were at least as excited about the radios as the shoes!