After the group did their presentations, and we each spoke, Reegan spoke. He had strong “you can do it” encouragement for them (hopefully, I got it on video, but if not: it was powerful). He knows what the orphans face, and he knows they are capable of overcoming it. I hope to hear from this group (“Barakuro Glory”) to see if they get crops next year, because that landscape looks almost Martian.
After that, it was visiting time, but not for a real long time, because we needed to be back in Maua by 4:00 to exchange some money. I’m pretty awkward and shy about visiting strangers (perfect for a mission trip, eh? I need to push myself past that), but the other members of our group stepped right up. The kid who made “cakes” (William) brought us a couple of clear plastic bags to show us, and we bought a bag. There must have been at least a dozen of these things in the bag, if not 20, and he charged us 50 shillings. That’s 50 cents. When we ate some later, they were utterly delicious (I feel like I already typed this somewhere else). Hard biscuits made with a little bit more sugar than we normally expect and pork fat (as opposed to butter, when you make your biscuit dough) and baked over a wood fire, so they had that smoky flavor. Plus, we hadn’t had lunch. Delicious and satisfying.
Every time we left a working group, I was always a little sad, and this was no exception. I came halfway around the world to see these folks and I have that sad feeling that I’ll never see them again. I’d like to see them again in a year, but I’d also like somebody else from UUMC to experience the same things we experienced on this trip, so they can get fired up about ZOE.
The next day (Wednesday) was our safari day, but on the way out of town, the “last” (or first, depending on your point of view) thing we did was to visit the house of one of the members of this first-year group, Judy. I took a photosphere there, which I have already posted.
This house is pretty much the starting point for ZOE kids (unless they’re worse off, which a few of them are): Judy and her three siblings and her grandmother all sharing two beds. They have blankets, mosquito netting, cook pots and a 5-gallon tank for holding fresh water (which still has to be boiled, I believe). Judy fills it up at a creek 5 km (3 miles) away. Water weighs 8 pounds per gallon. I leave the math as a simple exercise for the reader.
They do not yet have the utensil-drying rack, nor do they have their own latrine (they’re using their neighbor’s latrine, of which I have a picture).
By the way, speaking of that latrine, I believe I heard that Judy’s father died, either in the last rainy season, or in a recent rainy season (probably not the most recent one, because the most recent didn’t have enough rain for their crops). He didn’t die of AIDS, he just got sick, had diarrhea, and died of dehydration (I presume). The field where they live is in kind of a low area, and floods in the rainy season. Their neighbors’ latrines (presumably all looking like the one I took a picture of) get washed out by rainwater, and are part of the field flooding. You can see why proper sanitation is crucial.
We have high hopes for Judy. She is currently trying to grow produce to sell (it’s been a bad season where she is), and she is also engaged in bean price arbitrage (she buys low and sells high). Sorry, I just wanted to work “arbitrage” into the post. I’m a little unclear as how she makes a profit, but she does (or she tries to). Maybe her value-add is transportation, and maybe it truly is arbitrage. She has a cell phone, so it’s entirely possible she’s in touch with people who know prices, and she knows prices. There is a thing called the “Law of One Price”, which says that people who have more knowledge are essentially more able to find the true price of a commodity.
Anyway… I am grateful to her for opening up her home to us, and I admire her courage.