Imagine yourself dancing alongside local tribal women to a deep, resonating drumbeat until sweat is pouring off you. These are the same women you have sat with on the tarp to pick out pieces of rice, stirred porridge over the fire, held their babies and sat in their smoky mud and wattle houses. The women encourage you to jump alongside with them in the dance steps. Finally, you need to sit down.
In February 8 of us spent almost 2 weeks with Lightness and her projects. We painted the walls and dug foundations for 3 houses to replace the fallen, mud hut, these single women of 4 to 6 children live in. It is not really possible I think to understand what these houses mean to these mom’s. The mom’s welcomed us literally with open arms, embracing us, sharing the little food they had, sweating carrying buckets of water with us to build. The need is beyond anything we could imagine. Both Christina and Marietta (the recipients of the first two houses) were so astounded, they broke into tears when asked what the houses meant to them. We planted 200 trees, bought beds and made plans to extend our work. Mary sponsored a young women in school. It will change not just her life but her families. So much in just a few weeks of development.
But it is the joy we need to talk about. The joy we all experienced sharing this time together. You could make a case for destitute. But that is not what we experienced. It was the bonding of joy. Sharing the things all humans have in common. They taught us to live in the present, to celebrate friendship. It caused us to reflect on the destitution we have in this country of serious companionship and sharing.
In the afternoons we worked on computers we brought over with girls in Lightness’s vocational school. I fell in love with the amazing young girls. Their focus, sincerity, gratefulness was a lesson I took to heart. These girls know this is their chance to break the cycle of powerlessness that is too common in their community. And wow, where these girls in their skirts and sandals tough in the very physical game of netball.
We will be returning each year. We will be building more houses, working on the medical center that will serve 16,000 people. We need you. The women need you. They need you to visit them, to support them, to share our lives together. To feel more of what we experienced, I encourage you to look at the video link and to read the live updates.