Just a brief note to precede today's post: we have not had internet for the past week or so due to a water-damaged internet modem. We apologize to all of our ardent readers.
The other day we walked into a home brimming with women, all their faces brightly smiling and plastered with excitement as they welcomed us. Together they are the chain links that make up the support group of a highly unusual and beautiful family. Each woman is the adoptive mother of children that are either living positively with HIV or have been orphaned by AIDS. The fourteen women all share the responsibility of caring for two kitchen garden plots, where they grow a variety of vegetables that we have come to recognize throughout our time here. They divide the work up into sections; each requiring about two hours of work a day until the veggies are ready to harvest in three weeks. Living here and seeing how long the average meal (or feast rather) takes to prepare, or the sheer amount of cleaning and shopping there is to do, I can imagine how difficult it is to allocate this time. Gladys Tende, our host mama of sorts, and other women belonging to the group sat down with us to talk about their struggles as guardians to these children and describe to us their daily lives. We also took advantage of this time to work in some monitoring and evaluation for the kitchen garden project. Water accessibility and pest management were, across the board, a major concern in regards to the gardens. Sarah and I are working on a private grant for WOPLAH to purchase water pumps for several kitchen gardens.
The women are also dreaming about the opportunity to expand to larger garden plots and a poultry program. We are starting to think in terms of next year’s MOU, and we are all excited to help these women carry their ambition even further for the sake of supporting their families. An MOU, or memorandum of understanding, is an agreement between GlobeMed at Colorado College and WOPLAH about which projects we will spend the next year supporting and how many resources to earmark for each.
Many of the women talked about how they are unable to send their children to school because they have to prioritize food and hygiene over school fees. The women also utilize a merry-go-round system, which is still one of the strongest symbols of community and unification we have seen yet. Each week every woman puts in fifty Kenyan shillings (less than 1 USD). The total sum goes to one woman each week and they usually use it to buy clothes and soap.
With every new day, we meet these amazing and inspiring people who take the little they have and make the absolute most of it. I hope that I can take their sense of dignity and motivation with me in my life back home. Take what you have and work with it; don’t waste time crying over what you’ve lost or never gained. The people we have met here so far have proven inspiringly good at that type of resilience and perseverance.
|Maggie interviewing members of One Child's Village to learn about the challenges and successes of their kitchen gardens|
|Getting to know and love the children of One Child's Village|
|The women of One Child's Village standing proudly before their kale|