Dinner That's what I did!

Last week I visited the home of an Auntie who keeps 5 orphans. Returning a few days later with a care package of food we were caught, several times, in a downpour. To my relief, a few kind souls offered us shelter along the way. Since my arrival in Mbayi I've been invited into a few mud huts, never, until that day, staying long enough for my eyes to linger and my senses to adjust. Typically, people visit outside in the shade of magnificent trees, where, perched on a log or large container used for collecting water, one can enjoy a rest from the scorching sunshine. This day, however, the respite from the storm left me pondering village life in a little more detail than usual.

That evening, warm and dry in my home, I imagined what it would be like to actually live in Mbayi. I invite you to do this also. Let's try to walk a day in their shoes...

You awaken wondering about the time. With no windows to let in light, it is difficult to ascertain whether it's time to rise and start the day. Relieved to be lying on a piece of plastic covering the earthen floor, you can't help longing for something softer. Shivering after a night sleeping without a blanket, you dread the walk to the outhouse. Scratching a new mosquito bite, you begin to worry about malaria. It's a day's walk to and from the clinic just for a test to be sure, and there's so much work to be done. Oh, you think, it's probably just the dampness from that leaky roof that's causing these chills and headaches. As you push aside a piece of cloth which barely covers the doorway, you gaze in dismay at the empty container you meant to fill before turning in.

So it's off to the stream to collect some water - the community well just too far since you're feeling poorly today. Now you're wondering if only one trip will suffice. On a clear day like this one, laundry should be done. You dream of a day when there will be some detergent for that laundry and as you stoop to pick mushrooms, you yearn for just a bit of fish as well. Reminding yourself to be thankful for the few cups of flour waiting to be turned into nshima, you rejoice that today you will have a meal!

With that in mind you grab a hoe, work the field, return home in the heat of the afternoon, light a fire ( remember there's no electricity! ), and while the nshima is cooking, use the last bit of water to bathe. As you're wishing for a bit of soap, the chatter of children somewhere in the bush reminds you of a sister who is very ill. Someday her 5 children may have to come and live with you. You sigh - how will you manage?