Five years ago, our kids were 8, 7, 6 and 4. We were invited to an orphan awareness event at our good friends’ house. Many rooms of the house were set up to help the kids who were there visualize what life is like for an orphan. Most of the activity centered around contrasting how different things were for an orphan. In the bathroom, we talked about how most orphans didn’t have running water in their homes, let alone HOT water in their bathroom. Or a nice big bathtub with Jacuzzi jets!
In Zambia, the homes near where we live, there are rarely bathrooms in the house at all. In most back or side yards, you will find the family bathroom. A hole in the ground is usually surrounded by a simple structure. Sometimes privacy is afforded by some termite block and a covering of tin, but most often just bamboo poles and feed sacks and open air are all you need.
In the kitchen we talked about how many different pots, pans, dishes, silverware, and utensils there were. And all the different food choices in the pantry! Amazing! As opposed to an orphan who would generally eat 1-2 food items that had probably been cooked outside over a fire, once a day. If all was well. And they probably ate with their hands! (Although this tidbit was met with mixed reactions…seeing as all my kids prefer to eat with their hands…still)
Here, most cooking is done outside in the open air. Everyone cooks over charcoal in small braziers. As mentioned in other posts, finely ground corn meal is the staple food here and it is eaten at every meal.
In the bedroom, we talked about how most would not have a bed to sleep on and certainly very few toys. There most likely is no night light. Often, there is no one to sing/pray with you before you settle down for the night. And they would probably share a room with many other people.
Having your own bedroom is very rare. Having "stuff" in your bedroom is even more rare. Some children do have a parent who loves them very much, or an auntie who may have taken them in after their parents died. There is no electricity, so no nightlight is there for comfort.
|please note...this shot was taken during the project mentioned below, |
so it isn't set up as it usually would be, but you get the idea
All of this was difficult for us to visualize, but after some time living with kids in this situation, we realize the descriptions are very accurate.
So, just how bleak is the life of an orphan here in Zambia? Even though the descriptions of their living conditions are largely accurate and sometimes worse, there is another side to the coin. As you walk through the village here, you will notice the children very quickly. Mainly because they flock to you to stare and laugh. Their clothes are ragged and their dark skin lightened by patches of dirt. Teeth gleam in big smiles. Some have homemade toys. As you spend time watching, you will see them laughing, playing, enjoying life. This is what amazes us about children. This is maybe one reason why Jesus said we should be like little children. No matter how desperate our situation, there is still time to laugh and play and wonder.
Recently, we launched a small project called Tin for Tikes. In rainy season we receive around 3 feet of rain in 4 months time.The purpose of the project was to raise a few funds to put new roofs on about 8 houses so that kids could stay dry in the rainy season. We evaluated the needs of the widows working for the farm and chose the most needy. God had even bigger plans. To date, we have the funds for about 50 homes!! We never expected to have this level of support. Green tin roofs are popping up around the village and our farm ladies are so excited. They have never had a roof that didn’t leak.
As Christmas nears, we are encouraged to see so many people willing to give to those in need. We are blessed to see first hand how your gifts in the name of the Father bring joy! We pray you will be blessed in return as you give in His name. Below you will find pictures from one of our worker's homes. Mary lives here with her elderly mother and her 6 children.
|Here we added a 2 liter bottle filled with water and a little bleach. The sunlight is diffused and gives off as much light as a 40 watt bulb!|
|A beautiful sight seen while working|
|Riss takes the opportunity to get her hair plaited. Ouch!|