Saturday, June 16, 2012

Then and Now

Sharon and Memory and I (excuse the hippie like hair!) in 2009.

 In 2009, when I was in Mulenga for the first time, my sister-in-law, Kim, and I were asked to host a young moms' workshop for some of the girls in the community who were either expecting a baby or had just had a baby. It was one of the highlights of my trip, first of all, working with my sister-in-law is just plain fun at any time but throw in conversations about sex, labour and babies and a language barrier and it gets really hysterical, very quickly. We held our little workshop in the home of one of the care workers and two of the care workers were there to interpret between Bemba and English, as well as to build relationships with these young women. We wanted these girls to have someone local to be able to come to and ask questions and express concerns, so that they would feel empowered to care for these little ones. One of the girls we invited was a young woman we had met several times as we passed her home. Her name is Memory and at the time, she had a very new little baby girl named Sharon. Memory was only a teenager when she found out that she was pregnant and she still lived in her parents' home. The father of the baby was gone and not likely to return. In 2010, I tried to find Memory but when I went to her parents' home, I learned that she had moved to another community in an effort to find work. I missed seeing her and Sharon but was hopeful for them that their lives were improving. A few weeks ago, returning to Mulenga for the first time on this trip, our family was walking with Blessings and Towela, when I recognized Memory in the road. She stared at me as we approached and as soon as I said her name, she was so surprised that I remembered her. I asked how Sharon was and she took me by the hand through a nearby gate and picked up a toddler-sized Sharon. She looks great and as Memory and I chatted, she just stared and stared. After a few minutes, we told Memory that we would be around Mulenga for the next few weeks so we made plans to catch up again. I snapped a quick photo of her and Memory together at their gate. I'm thankful for the chance to return to Mulenga, particularly when I can catch up with those that remain so firmly in my heart. It's encouraging to see Memory and her little girl doing well and making a life for themselves. I'm hopeful for them. And so grateful for our time together.

Sharon and Memory in 2012

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