Friday, July 16, 2010

When words fail

After spending the morning fighting projector issues and navigating the purchase of a printer, we went off with Mama
Grace, a true force in the community, on “home visits” to the families of three students whom we sponsor in secondary and advanced certificate programs, and one young man who comes to Kilimahewa informal school.

How to describe what we experienced? The Massawe family lives in two chagga huts – mud and stick, maybe 15 “round” feet homes with tin roofs – when it rains water runs off the roofs into pots; boards with blankets serve as beds; no water – their high school daughter brings a bucket from a stream on her 3 mile walk to and from school each day. Cows and chickens sleep inside so they won’t get stolen; Thomas reads at night by a tuna fish-sized can filled with kerosene and a wick made by Mama from cloth; one meal a day from the fruits, beans and corn they cultivate; tea is breakfast… this is the beginning of what we saw.
What we also experienced, however, was an indescribable sincerity and gratitude for the education being given to their children. The mama repeatedly tried to kneel in thanks
… what more can we say?

Veronica’s aunt’s family (her parents are dead, her sister has HIV and lives elsewhere) is the next story. That visit will always stand out for the most feisty
great, great, great grandmother we have ever met (see her picture). We left with two huge bunches of bananas, “Chinese lettuce,” eggs and other vegetables to a chorus of “Asante sana” – thank you so much – to us and to Jesus for sending us!

Alex, 17, lives in a single room – again no windows, water… - with a female
relative. At night he crosses the street and sleeps on the sacks of a storeroom used to sort “finger millet.” He hangs out at a beer bar in order to do homework by a light bulb – you should see the meticulous writing in his notebook. Tea is breakfast, the roll at Kilimahewa is lunch, and a standard fruit and bean/maize concoction made by his relative is dinner. We will find a boarding secondary school for Alex in January.

So that was our afternoon – totally inadequate to express what we heard, saw and felt.

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