Picture this: you’re a small person, living without much contact with the outside world when a car stops (not an everyday occurrence) and out step 2 fluorescent green people with purple hair sticking up in spikes all over their head. You know they’re people ‘cos their roughly the same shape as your body but one is taller than most people you’ve ever
met and the smaller one has got rings round her eyes attached via her ears!!! Well that’s what it must have appeared to those little children who’ve never seen a white person before when we turned up! One little chap – wearing the crown of a straw hat whilst his sister wore the brim! – headed for the hills crying his eyes out. Manyoni Zulu, one of our new orphans, would have done the same had he not been pressed so tightly against his grandpa’s legs there was nowhere to go. When the large ‘fluorescent green’ person gave him a new catapult the look of mystification on his face was complete! Peter, his smaller brother, on the other hand was all smiles – has he seen one of us before?!! The tiny toddler I sat next to last week in church who kept lifting my arm to have yet another look at it, and then tried to pick off the white, may not have done!!
Happily not the case with Mary Banda (sponsored by David and Hannah Hubbard) and her lovely gran, Emmanuel Daka (sponsored by Nick Pashley) and his amazing uncle, and Mr and Mrs Banda, Peter and Manyoni’s grandparents (sponsored by Keith and Linda Tayler). They didn’t run for the hills so it was lovely to catch up with / meet with them. The first time I met Mary she was lying outside on the ground on a sack, shivering: she had malaria – again. Yesterday she was a picture of health and more chatty with us than she’s ever been.
How wonderful to be able to report that the same is true of Emmanuel. He is one of our HIV orphans and the first time we met him he was covered in sores and in a very bad way. To see him smiling and happy was a joy. His uncle and his wife have a small farm, and ‘industrious’ would be a major understatement. Mrs Daka has built an outside oven in which she bakes buns to sell (how do you do THAT?!!) and Mr Daka (who continually beamed proudly at Emmanuel) already knew about pit compost as he’d been on a farming conservation course. His cattle were in great shape and he had masses of guinea fowl because he goes out into the bush, finds their eggs, puts them under his chickens and then, once hatched, stay with them! He was farming sunflower seeds and soya beans to sell (for very little). African men are often accused of being lazy – not Mr Banda!
Not an adjective to describe Mr and Mrs Banda on their little farm. When you think that these grannies and grandpas have worked so very hard to keep their families alive, and then expected their children to look after them in their old age, their deep sorrow at the loss of their children combined with the actuality of HAVING to carry on working just as hard as ever – phew!!
In seeing these children we’d crossed from one side of the chiefdom to the other, were dust covered and had our teeth rattled by the bumps, so to get back and find there was no water – well, all we had to do was put things in perspective!! I’ve hardly had to make do with a ‘wash’ as opposed to a bath or shower since boarding school days, but at least I could have one!
Day off today!