While we were in the copperbelt, we were invited into children's homes. We spent the entire day driving around and observing and interacting.
It worked out very well. We had 3 women with us. Sharon Chisala, who has the most direct contact with the kids, and Lister and Mrs. Kabwe. Then Leah and I. We had a good system. I drove, and the Ndola ladies directed me on which roads to turn down. Then once we arrived at the homes I took pictures and occasional video while Leah took down notes.
This is Sharon, Leah and I at the end of a long day
Are you serious?
This is the road that we turned down and I asked that question. It was barely a 1/2 lane road and we were brushing both sides of the car with tall grass.
It opened up though on a beautiful spot. There was a banana plantation and a community school, and a well.
Joy community school
When we came up to the well several kids were there with their buckets and pitchers getting water. Most of them ran away when they saw me coming and with the camera.
We drove to most all of the kids homes. We were invited in. We sat in the living rooms and listened to the guardians and children tell us their stories.
It’s hard enough to hear when kids are orphaned, either one parent dies, or both parents. Or to hear of parents leaving them to go work.
But to spend all day hearing so many stories, each one sad and unique. Each one deserving its own place to be sympathized with, not just all lumped together into one group of “orphans”, or those without their parents.
I just wanted to post some pictures and tell you a little more to give you an idea of what we experienced.
Of the homes we visited, only about 3 or 4 had electricity, and I think only one home we were in had a toilet. So no running water for most all of them either.
We were greeted warmly at each home and then brought into their living room. Most all of the homes were very dark inside. A few of them, so dark that it took several minutes for my eyes to adjust and even see around the room. On several occasions I would try and open the door a bit more to let more light in to get a picture, or lift the curtains back briefly.
A few houses had a room that was their “kitchen”. The place where they store their food, dishes, utensils, etc. But no refrigerators, or cook tops, ovens, etc. They cook their meals outside over a coal fire. A few homes had a specific area outside that they used to cook.
After we finished our time in the living rooms, we would ask to see the children’s bedrooms. After the second home we then started asking if we could see where they “sleep”. Realizing that the room might not actually be their “bedroom” as we would think of, or even “theirs”.
In the first couple of homes, we could tell it actually was the child’s room. But after that, the majority of the kids had a shared room with everyone in the house, along with all the clothing, and any item that was not in the kitchen and living room. So for some, it was a bike in their room. Buckets. Miscellanea. One girl had a page from a catalog or a sales flyer for toys, taped to her wall.
We also were taking note of whether or not they had a mosquito net.
A few children had actual beds. But beyond that, we were led into rooms where there was just a blanket , or a reed mat with a blanket on the hard concrete floor.
You know this happens all over the world. But when you are invited into someone’s home and life it becomes much more than just a statistic or a story.
One boy lives with his grandfather. His mom died in the hospital when her second child was born. She had a c-section with the first and the way the c-section was performed with the second child, led to her death. As well as the second child dying a couple months later in the hospital. So he has lived with his grandfather for many years.
Another girl lives with her aunt and uncle and cousins. Her mom died when she was 18 months old. Everyone in the family knows that she is “orphaned” except her. We suspect she knows though and has been very distant and not knowing how to relate to her aunt and uncle through what we heard of her interactions. It was very sad to listen to the aunt talk to us, knowing that she has intended it for her good, and loves her as her own, but has kept this information from her. She is close to being a teenager and we encouraged the “auntie” or mother to tell her the truth, since even her younger cousins know.
Another sibling group, -in discussing the health situation of their girl, found that the mother ( father died) knows the girl is HIV positive but has not taken her to the clinic to start treatment.
We found out this same “mother” has brewed beer in her home and been accused of running a gambling ring.
In discussing this matter with the deacons at GRBC, we see the difficulty in supporting the children in school and sponsoring them when the guardians and the home environment are running counter to what they are trying to see achieved.
One of the homes we went to was in the “Habitat Community”, A group of homes built by Habitat for Humanity.
The home belonged to a grandmother who has 6 children and 6 grandchildren living in the home. Of the 6 grandchildren, 3 are supported by the Hope for the Afflicted Ministry.
3 sisters. 2 of the 3 are HIV positive.
We were invited into their home and sat in their living room talking with their grandmother and the girls. Heartbreaking stories. The older sister was very sick with malaria when she was 3 years old, it ended up that she needed a blood transfusion and was given 2 units of blood. That’s how she contracted the disease. The other sister received it from the mom, most likely, at birth. The mom died shortly after having tested positive at the clinic, but unable to afford the ARV drugs at that time.
When we asked the youngest, 8 years old what she dreamed of being when she grew up, she said, “a truck driver”. Sounded sweet enough for a child’s dreams. It wasn’t until I was watching the video I took at her home later that I caught what she was saying. I heard the grandmother say that her dad was a driver.
Her dream was that she wanted to be like her dad…
You might think it’s easier not knowing those things. It’s easier not seeing those children, or hearing their stories because your heart just breaks.
I have heard people say in relation to those types of situations, something to the effect of, “I just couldn’t handle that. It would be too hard. Too sad.”
Well yes and yes it is.
Yes it’s easier, and yes it is too hard and too sad, and yes you can’t handle it.
Easier to not know, or think about; but is that really better?
The blessing though is that in knowing Christ, you are not the one handling it anyway.
So we were “successful” in finding out a little more information on the children and seeing where they live. But it was hard, and it was sad. But it was a good thing...to be invited in.
At one of the homes, we entered in and all the neighborhood kids stood at the doorway peeking in.
They put the maize ( corn) up on the metal roofs along with groundnuts (peanuts) to dry. They will leave them there for months sometimes. Then the maize is taken down and pounded into the mealie meal.
Kitchens in different homes