Mbayi, Musenga - Meeting the Leaders

I've had the privilege of meeting the leaders of Mbayi, a village in the region of Musenga. Mbayi is a community of about 2,000 people whose homes are not clustered together, but spread throughout a vast area of bush. In a clearing, the village centre has 3 churches and a school, their condition evidence of the poverty of this place. School

It was here that we met to discuss the challenges they face and their vision for the future.

I found out that Mbayi has a shallow well, with no cover, dug by hand, which dries up after the rainy season, but even when in use, the water, not clean enough to drink, is only used for washing. So villagers collect water from a nearby stream, needing to drink it without the benefit of purification methods (they mentioned needing chlorine), that they cannot afford, which leads, of course to waterborne diseases.

Children collecting drinking water

Community Well

The long, bumpy trail (I hesitate to call it a road!) into the village is bordered by fields, cultivated with crops such as maize, cassava and sweet potato, but the condition of the soil makes growing them difficult.

The evenings here are very cold - sometimes 5 degrees celsius. A woman graciously agreed to show me inside her home where she burns a small fire throughout the night in an attempt to keep the family warm, admitting, when asked, that they remain cold nonetheless. Few, if any people in this village have blankets!

This is clearly a community of hardworking, ambitious people. The leaders, when asked about their needs, indicated that they require a cover for the well, that it be made deeper, and help with some type of water treatment. They asked for advice on how to grow crops in very acidic soil and for help acquiring seeds.

These priorities aside, they hope one day to have a preschool so that their children can begin an early education and a health care centre as the closest one is about 20K , a 2 hour walk away.

At the moment, they are working on improving the road, have acquired the use of a grader, but need money for fuel.

Very practical and sensible requests, I thought, as I bid these earnest, determined people goodbye, promising to return very soon in order to followup (they promised to make a more detailed presentation) and spend some time with the women and children.

When I told the leaders about our community in Canada, wanting to come alongside them in order to share our resources and work together to help them build a self-sustaining community, they were very excited, welcoming, and expressed hope for the future.

Let's all work together and change lives!