today was a day of raw emotion for me. When we first arrived at Healing Place we delivired clothes and coloring pages to the youngest children who didn't receive anything yesterday. To see them cling to a pair of cast off jeans or a t-shirt like it was the greatest treasure in the world once again reminded me how sheltered and how rich I am in so many ways. All of us were moved again by the warm welcome and greeting songs.
One girl recited a poem about having lost her mother to AIDS. WHen the father remarried the step-mother slapped and abused her telling her she was not the girls mother. She couldn't finish the poem but broke down in tears. As we comforted her, she told us it was not her mother that died but the mother of her best friend. Unfortunately the story is told over and over again in this impoverished area of Lusaka. The most vulnerable of all the people of Zambia are the children in this poor community called KABANANA. Yet they are filled with such love and faith and expectancy that our hearts were more blessed by their resilience and faith than they might have been by ours. There are 42 double orphans in Healing Place(both parents dead) and many more that are single orphans. HIV/AIDs continues its tragic toll on the people of Africa. Seeing these children and putting our arms around them reminds us all that AIDS is not a statistic - it is real people and real life and even among the poorest in our world, the hurt and loss is even more heart-wrenching.
Today was cooler in temperature. Yesteday we spent the day digging foundation trenches for the new school building. The night before we prayed that we didn't think we could do all that was being expected of us while we were here. SO when we arrived on site - there were 9 experienced, strong young men to wield a pick or shovel and they intend to stay and work until a building is completed. We are grateful for the financial support of Village Steps to make this all possible.
Since it was cooler today, we were ready to roll up our sleeves and work but as is usually the case in Africa, we had no supplies with which to pour the footings. Most of the team spent the remainder of the morning playing with, teaching, loving and encouraging the children who flocked around each teammate like African flies. Sometimes one feels almost claustrophobic with the needs. That is balanced by the incredible love and tenderness these children crave. We are emotionally drained and filled with an even deeper sense of the needs of the world and our responsibility to help share in meeting those needs. We could have sent money only but the deepest point of contact with these children is in touch - how they crave hugs, love and care. Our prayer is that we can continue with energy and compassion.