Sunday, August 07, 2011

Painful night - mud hut ... read to the end, please ...




Aug. 5, 2011

Imagine: Your elementary school daughter leaving home in the morning with no breakfast, walking over 2 hours to school, being caned if she is late, having no lunch, and walking back around 5:00. Meet Caroline ... before. Bethany United Methodist Church in Austin (which is home to many LOL volunteers) has sponsored lunches for 45 children at Wambwa Primary for three years. Caroline is one of the lucky children.

Our agreement: I wanted to experience what this wonderful sixth-grade girl's life was really like. I had her teacher tell her to ask her parents if I could come home for a night. They were not to do anything special. I would eat what they eat and sleep where they sleep. It was agreed.

The walk: Yesterday, Caroline and I, plus one other young lady started walking. The other young lady was one in whose home my team had planned to visit, but simply ran out of time and couldn't. She cried at that time, so I told her since it was on the way, I would visit this time

We passed through two villages walking the dirt roads. The walk places one in National Geographic - women carrying babies on their back and items on their heads, children everywhere, men with huge loads on their bicycles, people in long lines to get water at wells, etc. **The children and adults we met found it hilarious that the 'muzungu' was walking down the roads, and they always shouted out greetings. I was my own parade!

We fast-walked endless miles. Caroline kept saying, "We have to walk fast. It's a far distance." I wanted to yell about every five minutes, "Are we there yet?" Finally, the second girl said her house was down a path off the road. It was - adding probably an additional four miles to the trip. :) Her guardian (both parents are dead) came out of the field. Words can't express how grateful he was for the food for the girl. He said he would never have been able to provide the money.

Caroline and I walked on - sometimes joined by other children. We left the road and walked many more miles through paths deeper into the bush. The fast-walk was from 4-6:30 pm in the heat! What can I say!!!

The family and home: Caroline has a mom, dad, and two sisters. They live in a mud/wattle rectangular home. I entered, stepping down into the bedroom/living area. The mud is packed hard and smooth on the walls and floor, and the small room was as clean as ours at home. There is a wall that separates this bedroom from the parents. It has a small opening in the wall, covered with cloth to enter the other room. The chickens stay in the parents' room at night. There is also a small thatch-roofed cooking 'house'. Next to it is a structure out of limbs (open) with a small cement slab in the middle. After dark, you squat on the slab and pour water over you to bathe - unless you are this muzungu. :) Behind the house is a small, mud/wattle structure, with a cloth over the doorway. One has to bend to enter - and presto, there is a small hole cut in the earth ... honestly, a nice clean toilet, better than some I have used lately. :)
Caroline's parents don't speak English, but her grandfather does. The extended families' mud-thatch-roofed homes all surround Caroline's. I had a great visit sitting out under the stars with her grandfather. Nice man!

Dinner: Around 8:00, they handed me a bowl containing about 10 potatoes. I told Caroline it was too much, so we shared.

The painful night: One skinny, old, piece of foam was on the floor, which Caroline and I shared. I should add, she is much taller than me. Her two sisters usually sleep on this with her, but they were nice and slept on mats on the floor. We were so scrunched that my back was totally pressed against hers. The mosquito netting was smothering my face, and my nose was probably 1-2 inches from the dirt wall. Did I mention I am claustrophobic?! I felt like I was smothering. Also, the house was totally dark - like being in a cellar without light, and no air. It was everything I could do to lie there, and not go screaming for the outside.

I kept my eyes closed and prayed for peace, thought about each of my grandchildren, ask God for peace again, thought about grandchildren again - all the time wanting desperately to run out the door and get fresh air. However, I knew I would not be able to explain that to this nice family who gave me their best. I can't truly describe this to you. I still can't think about that solid dirt in front of my face. It bothers me. Finally, a cool breeze somehow came blowing through, probably God helping me out again:) It was a rough night to say the least.

In the morning, the parents let the chickens loose. They came flapping in by the bed. When I started to pull the velcro on my tennis shoes, there was a big wad of poop on it! Yuk!!

The brick truck ride: School was out for the break, so Caroline was free for the day. I told her I would take a boda-motorcycle taxi back, so we started walking to find one. I had forgotten how many miles we were in the bush. Endless miles - no boda...an hour had passed and still walking. Finally, I saw a small truck coming with mud bricks stacked in the back, and men sitting on them. I just knew - that was my ride. I stood in the middle of the road and flagged them down. They said they were going to Mbale and another town. I told them I would ride in the back with the bricks. However, a nice man got out of the cab and I crawled in.Yahoo - off we went. I was telling the man in the front that I go to Pearl Haven church in Mbale. I thought they were going to a different town first, to unload bricks - but all of a sudden ... there was the church! They were unloading bricks right across the street.

Wow! I had prayed asking for a boda - but God, being a God of surprises, gave me something better! I just had to laugh!

Funny Note: I had shared the various things in my small pack. The thing they laughed at the most was the small roll of toilet paper. It seems they use leaves. :)

The gift: Today I bought a beautiful, solid, blue girls bicycle for Caroline and the family to use! It has a place on the back for a passenger, a bell, a mirror for seeing behind, and a basket in front! The roads and paths are flat, which is good. I can just picture her whizzing to school, and the family using the bicycle to go to the village when needed. I called the grandfather and he met me in town. The last I saw of him, he was pedaling the bike headed out of the town of Mbale - back to the bush! What an honor to be able to bless these people! Love to think of their excitement when the grandfather arrives!

Thanks for listening once again... Really I am working 8-hour days in the libraries. I will write more about that next time!

My best wishes!

- Trudy



1 comment:

Jeanie said...

Delightful! The gift of the bicycle is amazing. May God continue to give you the courage, strength, and wisdom to continue this mission!