Sunday, April 1, 2012

Next Steps

Some days are just good. We've had some great ones around the Hands village and as we start thinking ahead to the week after next, we know we're going to miss a lot of things about life here. Living in community is so rewarding in many ways. Of course, there are challenges when you bring together people of different cultures and share work and life with them. Mostly, we (and particularly the boys) have loved life here. The Hands village is a pretty great stepping stone from which to move into the next phase of our trip. We've done some short community stays - the longest just four nights - and we've really enjoyed them. I never could have imagined myself in a place where we would just be dropped off with a child headed household in the middle of Bushbuckridge and think of it as a great experience...but it was. We stayed with a family of kids that have now become "our" family of kids. We've seen the challenges that they experience as part of daily life, and know that there are far more than we saw. There are emotional and physical and sociological needs that are not being met in this young family of kids and yet, they are doing so well with what they are dealing with. I know that our lives will always include Dumisile, Cleverness, Tshepiso, Clifford and Errenes, Zayanda and Bo. We know that their lives will always include us. Such a responsibility on our part to remain connected and grow these relationships - even when distance separates us. Days around the village have been great too. It's a comfortable place to return to at the end of a day in a community, after the challenges of days with vulnerable children and walking with care workers who themselves have stories that are incredibly difficult in their own right. The boys have found a balance between community days and days here with the help of Michael and David, two Afrikaans boys who live here on the property with their parents, Hermann and Charisse. They've pulled apart the boys' tree fort and have been rebuilding it. It's quite the undertaking and Michael is a great foreman, putting the boys to work on several projects at once.
Our time here in the Village is winding down. This week, Jason is heading to Swaziland with a group of guys to assess the building of a care centre for the care workers there. He'll be gone until Thursday. We head into Easter weekend with preparations under way for the next stage of our trip. We're heading to Zimbabwe on Easter Monday or the next day. We will be going to Mutare, a small city where Hands is working in several communities. We will be staying for two weeks with Farai, who leads the service centre there, supporting the communities' care workers. Farai is a bit of a legend for his humour and laughter and his enthusiasm for the work that he is doing. We haven't met him yet but by all reports, to know him is to love him. We're excited. We'll be spending two weeks with Farai and Mildred and their family of four girls and one small boy, Farai Jr. We'll be staying in their home with them and travelling the communities with Farai, learning from him and encouraging him in the work that he is doing. One of the difficulties that these leaders have in their countries is a sense of isolation from others doing the same work. We've heard that Farai has been praying for visitors to come and walk with him and apparently he is very excited that a family is coming. We'll spend a week in the communities surrounding Mutare, fairly urban and concentrated communities with all the challenges that go with that type of work. Then, we'll head out about 2 1/2 hours to the Honde Valley, a region that is known for it's amazing beauty but also for the challenges of rural poverty. This is the valley in which Farai was raised so it will be a great opportunity to spend time there with someone who knows it so intimately. After our two weeks in Zim, we'll head north to Zambia, travelling with Farai and some of the care workers to Luyansha in the Copperbelt region. This is where my heart has been all along. Last night, speaking on the phone with my friend, Sukai, from Luyansha, I just have this excitement to return to my friends there. I can hardly wait. I don't want to wish away our time here or in Zimbabwe, I know it all just goes by so quickly. I don't even know how it is April already! Didn't we just arrive? So, yeah, that's where we're at...that's where we're heading. Of course, all that being said with the disclaimer that this is Africa and anything can happen or change at any given moment. TIA. This is Africa!

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