This week I met a woman in passing and later heard her story.
My friend Stephanie was taking her home on our way to go shopping. I met her and said hello and goodbye and that was the extent of my interaction with her. As we were driving away, Stephanie told me about her.
She is a single mom to a 10 year old girl. She recently became pregnant again, hoping that a man was going to love her and take care of her and her daughter. Now she is alone again and expecting a baby in the next month. She lives in a shanty town area and walks wherever she needs to go.
She is HIV positive.
When her time to deliver comes, she will walk to the clinic carrying a bucket, plastic and some rags.
The bucket is to be used for bringing the placenta and the rags home. The plastic, to use during the delivery. She had some plastic garbage bags that she was given, and money to buy a new bucket.
And that’s it.
Hopefully she will be given medicine that can diminish the chances of passing the HIV virus on to her baby. But there is no guarantee.
The same day we were told of the people living in the shanty towns and compounds, and how this rain effects them. The pit latrines are overflowing and flooding. This then gets into the water supply in these areas and the chances of diseases spreading, especially cholera becomes a reality for them.
We have been focusing much right now on getting our family established and settled, which is good. But these stories come to us and remind us again of the great needs here.
Last Sunday there was a dinner at church. They served up the plates in the line for the kids. I went through the line and tried to tell the ladies, “just a little” or no thank you to a certain item, knowing that my little guys were not going to eat it. But I don’t think they understood me, and continued to fill the plate and hand it to me. I thanked them and then after the boys ate a little, I collected the plates, and began to look for a garbage can. It’s hard to express in words exactly what I was feeling, but I just kept thinking, what do you do when you have extra food in Africa? A serious question.
When a lot of your life you hear, “There are starving kids in Africa”, and you think yes we don’t want to waste food. When you are at home in the states you dispose of it, and really don’t think much about it.
But here, knowing the need is great? What do you do?
We don’t want to be seen wasting food. So I walked around thinking maybe we are the only ones with extra food here to throw away…and then I found a big bowl near the garbage can that people were scrapping the extra food into before throwing the plates away. It just felt strange.
The gardener at the house eats his lunch here every day. There is usually some food that the housekeeper leaves from the day before. But we have still given him a sandwich or extra hamburgers, or something. But I have wondered if this is his main meal of the day, or what thoughts would he have seeing good food thrown away into the garbage?
Today Alice has been here cleaning the house. I was working on cleaning up breakfast and then ironing the sheets to put on the bed. I felt like I kept getting in her way, so I would say, “excuse me, or I’m sorry”. She would say, “that’s ok”. Then she said, “everyone is busy, busy”.
Her 2 nieces came today to help do her washing, of her own clothes. We met one of the girls, Joyce. She looked about Emma’s age, but when I asked her, she said she was 12. I was asking Alice about her family, and she said she is one of 8 children. Then she made a comment that was very sad and surprising.
She has a daughter who lives in Eastern Province, very far away. She is in grade 8. I asked her name and she said Rose. I said, that’s Emma’s middle name, and she smiled and said very nice.
Alice seems young and lives here on the property in a small dwelling, so I didn’t expect she had any children.
I asked her when she last saw her.
She is hoping to go see her in July. She said it is very far and very expensive. She would take the bus to get there. She is from that area and came here to work. When she goes back she will see her mother and other family members as well.
Sarah is in grade 7. I could not imagine not seeing her for 2 years