26 JUNE 2016

The weekend is a great time to see our orphans in their family homes so we set off early, first for Evergreen Community Garden.  There was hardly any sign of the man at the bottom of the compost pit bar earth being flung into the air as he levelled out the bottom!  As they had promised there were great piles of ash and green leaves all ready, plus a pile of rotted down cow dung ready to mix with the earth so all the layers, including a light watering from the watering can, could be added to the pit in the right order.  Another two men were weaving the mat to go over the pit so it doesn’t dry out, and all the women were hoe-ing away readying the soil for planting.  We’ve never seen such an industrious team, ever!    The children and I were playing ‘heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ which was a whole new game – those fluorescent green people can be very weird!!

Whilst there two young men arrived from Mawaso village, (needless to say one of whom was one of Granny Mawaso’s 15 children!!) which is miles away, to ask if we could help THEM.  We explained they’d first have to ask the Chief to see if he and his Council were agreeable to siting a well in the area they’re thinking of, and then, having had our fingers burnt at two other wells, they’d have to go through some pretty high hoops with us before we’d agree.  We’ll leave it with them to see if they spark but word is obviously out, AT LAST, that with your own hard work you may not need to be a subsistence farmer all your life.  

More t-shirts given – and the last of our dwindling stock of baby clothes!  (NOW do you believe me that John and I had all our stuff in our carry on luggage whilst the 2 suitcases and the golf travelling bag were packed mostly with, yes, you guessed it, t-shirts!!   Next stop was to deposit the wood at Mwasyangulu village for the school, leaving a hive of industry behind us.

So … … orphan families, and some explanation first.  the ‘children’ range in ages from 5 to 20 and if they are at school, it’s a primary school – there are no secondary schools in the area.  To be at school at that age will seem strange to most of us but as Zoe sponsors you will know, if you don’t have a school uniform, books and the ability to pay the fees, you don’t get to school, therefore some of our orphans started late to say the least!!   If they are to go to secondary school they will have to board and this a BIG expense.  Because of this we’ve set in motion a plan that as the children get to this level we will have a competition between them all and seek to send on the girl and the boy with the best grades.  Selection will include best attendance records at school.   We would love to send them all but funds simply don’t provide for that.  The eldest young people now in Zoe have the fortune of being top of the tree without that competition as there are only a couple of them.  We hope that despite the level of poverty they endure with such positive fortitude, AND the extremely large classes, their marks will be sufficient for secondary school.    

With that said we started out in the Chief’s village, Manukwa, with Happy, Edith and Shadreck Chiziwa (sponsored by Alan and Barbara Glover) who live with their mother, and Shadreck comes into this category.  He is now 20 and hoping to go on to further education at Chizongwe so his marks in his up-and-coming exams will decide that – and his future life!  The last time we visited his mother had a marvellous little garden plot all around her brick house but this time, nothing.  The reason given was that the pigs got in and ate everything;  the REAL reason was obviously not one the family wished to share.  Sigh ……   Edith and Happy are both doing well at school too, Happy coming 1st out of his 91 class mates – no, it’s not a typing error.  T-shirts!!

James (20) and Bridget (14) Gama also live in Manukwa village, (sponsored by Wokingham Vineyard Church’s ‘Girls On Duty’ group) with their mother.  Joseph was out catching mice for supper!!  It says a lot about her that there were a great gang of young seated on her little verandah when we arrived – despite it being a small traditional mud hut it’s obviously a good place to be.  James and his sister are as lovely as their mum but whilst James is also nearing the end of his schooling, he’s unlikely to have the grades to continue.  Go Bridget go!     T-shirts and trousers!!

On to see Edward (8) and Chisomo (5) Banda and Lucy, (sponsored by Nino and Debbie Moscardini) who live in the same village with their mum (who is blind in one eye).  However, we found Lucy had not returned after quite some time from going to live with relatives in another Province (why???) so Memory (12), her sister, had returned home after her grandmother’s death which left her living with her pyschiatrically challenged aunt.  I know!  Don’t ask!!  You wouldn’t believe how long it took to unravel THAT story!!  So (keep up now!!) no Lucy, ‘Memo’ as she is known is now on our register, and Lucy will be if she returns.  Memo’s a sweet girl but had a very wide gash right across the inside of her hand, very crudely stitched, as she’d caught it on a bottle.   (In the villages, around their small generally mud – not brick – homes the ground is kept swept and very neat and tidy but go beyond that ……….!!)  There was no complaining and we wonder what scars her previous life will have left.   She was very shy, as was Edward, all made up for by Chisomo!!  Out there wasn’t in it!  He’s too small to go to school yet but his curiosity denotes a very intelligent mind.  Watch out teachers!!   T-shirts but sadly no trousers to fit the little chap whose ‘shorts’ (a piece of cloth on a string) were doing little to cover his modesty.

Kesias Khoma (sponsored by Michael Estoric) is the little chap who lives with his VERY elderly grandparents in the somehow still standing mud hut in Msenje village.  Sadly granny was out but, as ever, grandpa was effusive with thanks and Kesias his normal happy self.  We’re very much hoping that negotiations between the Headman and Mr Kunga (who lives in the neighbouring village and thinks the house is a blot on them all) will result, this time, in our being able to provide the family with a small brick house without any of the strife this incurred last time we tried.   T-shirts and home!    John off to watch the South Africa v Ireland rugby game.  Missed England beating the Aussies again – 3 out of 3 IN Australia!! – but with a score of 44 to 40 it must have been a cracking game.  Suzie’s family in Oz are refusing to discuss it!!

PS   the paint’s dried – we may have to continue getting people in to do that job for us!!

Suzie with one of the grannies involved in our programme

It’s been a heart wrenching afternoon – good thing we went to the filling station (church) in the morning.  Oh my.  If you ever think YOU’VE got problems, try this for size.

Anodii Zulu cared for by his grandmother Anansi (sponsored by Peter Murcott ), lives in quite a substantial brick house at Tambanazo Farm (not in a village) however, there was nothing in the farm fields.  Granny – so tired looking – had had 13 children, only 5 of whom have survived.  When Anodi’s parents died he went to live with one of Granny’s sons, who also died.  How does Anodii manage to look so genuinely cheerful?   What a lad, and what lessons he has already had to learn at the tender age of 14.  At the farm were his two cousins, Emmanuel (9) and Lingson (7).  Their mother (whom we’d met yesterday) is one of Granny’s surviving children – and her husband has died!  Another of Granny’s daughters was staying nearby – we hesitated to ask!  She is just the dearest lady but as she said she now has no-one to help her in the fields (don’t know where the remaining 3 children are) and if it were not for the kindness of Mr and Mrs Kunga giving out of the little they have, she wouldn’t know what they all would do.  She has been diagnosed with kidney problems and goes back to the hospital tomorrow to find out more.  We’ve brought Emmanuel and Lingson onto the Zoe programme – Granny was almost in tears as she thanked God for bringing us to her, and so were we.  Phew!

On to see Matthew (10) and Lebertina (12) Banda cared for by their mother Ruth.  Their father died last year and it was obvious that their mum was still struggling through that.  They live in a mud brick house in a tiny community (most of whom it seemed had turned out to see what the fluorescent people were up to!!) called Navutika Farm which, as with Tambanazo Farm, is not far from Mr Kunga in Makhaza village.  Unlike Granny’s, this farm had a FANTASTIC crop of maize that was stuffed into its woven round maize store right up to the top.  Excellent!  Food to eat AND her children being schooled we hope will help Ruth through her loss.  Both children were very shy with us, but thankfully not terrified!

Yotam with his mother and sister.

Yotam with his mother and sister.

We met Judith, mother of Daniel, Yotam and Titamenji Banda who live at Matubamba Farm after that – parched but swept earth all around their little brick home but no crops.  Theirs is a long and complicated story that we haven’t got to the bottom of yet so we’ll delay sponsorship until that time – except for Yotam we hope.  He and his sister Titamenji both attend Chambawa School, the difference being that whilst Titamenji may cope in a class of nearly 100, Yotam, who is profoundly deaf, stands no chance.  We’ll go tomorrow we hope and check out the school for the deaf and the blind, which is not too far from Chipata to see what it’s like and if suitable, see if there’s a slot for this little boy.  Oh brother!!

Thank God water AND electricity still working and tonic in the fridge!!!

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