Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Shake it like a polaroid picture


Fatimata worshipping....






















The women and our team sitting together on the floor of the center....









Dancing the morning away in the community center...






Dancing is the best way to start a day…aside from Starbucks coffee. As I mentioned before, we rise each morning as a team to prayer, scrambled eggs (very safe to eat, no matter what part of the world you're in, and a great source of protien!), and a 30-45 minute ride to the rural communities that Somebody Cares/Visionledd work in, via a rickety white minibus.

and then the dancing….women pour from the shanty shack shelters which serve as training facilities, bums shaking, hands in the air, and a war-cry-like sound erupts from the loudest lady, who happens to be the fearless leader, and a simple song begins. Praises to Jesus mostly…simple, repetitive songs…most all have actions that include more bum shaking. Basically I have been reminded why Africans needed to have such big booties…

The 6 sewing machines have arrived. When I came, I thought these would cost around $100 CND, but I didn’t figure in the African inflation rate. What are African inflation rates, you ask? To put it simply: Scarcity. Three days before I arrived in Malawi, World Vision started a similar income generation program and purchased 40 sewing machines. 40 may not sound like a lot of sewing machines in Canadian terms, but in terms of Malawi, this was all of the sewing machines in the country. In Canada, we just go to the next Canadian Tire, right? So I thought I would call sewing shops in Blantyre, the only other large city, to order them. And no. they are all gone. The whole country is out of sewing machines. For how long? I ask the shop keepers. Oh, maybe October. We MAY have more sewing machines in October...

The other side of the African inflation equation rate is price hikes. As I mentioned before, we were able to find 6 machines total, and I had budgeted for $100 per machine. The prices have nearly doubled since World Vision bought those machines. In the end, they cost nearly $200. I went to the shop keepers, trying to remind them kindly and gently that they only paid around $60 for the machines, and despite the fact that they held the last machines in all of Malawi, they would still make a significant profit off of me purchasing them for $100. And I mentioned that we were working with orphaned children and widows who are living with AIDS. Not a spark of compassion crossed their faces. Even the rich shopkeepers hold a poverty mentality...

The poverty mentality of Africa is difficult to encounter…in poverty, people are not able to plan for their futures. They have never known what it feels like to know you will have enough to eat tomorrow. Like in the depression era, when our grandparents took all of their money out of banks and kept it in a hole in the ground because they couldn’t trust the banks to be true to their word, people living under the poverty mentality don’t know what tomorrow will brings. Banks crash, sewing machines go out of stock for 6 months, and you never know that you will have enough to feed your family….so when people know they can double the price of a sewing machine and save more for their families, they do it without a second thought about the widows who are going to suffer when they double the price of a sewing machine from one day to the next.

Someone asked me once why i love africa. There are struggles...empty shop shelves, rotten food, bad water, dirty, uneven streets...but the beauty of the human spirit here will take your breath away. looking into the shining beauty-filled faces of the women on our first day of sewing class made me stop and think. each of these stunning creatures has nursed her husband on his death bed, she has faced the scorn of a community that passes moral judgement on her for her HIV-positive status, she looks to the faces of her children, unsure of who will care for them when she herself succumbs to an AIDS-related illness...and she has the courage to rise each day and continue to fight. people sometimes say to me that i am strong, but i am the weakest woman in this program. these women inspire me, their strength and joy humble me, and their dances make me want to get to heaven, where all of this pain will be gone, we'll sit at the feet of our Lord, and finally, we'll all have enough...

I had a good friend david ask me a few questions to work through…so the next blog will be more of the internal stuff that's on my mind here...

2 Comments:

Blogger sKY:: said...

Hi Maeghan .... I think back to our sewing classes at the working centre and the plethora of machines and material that we had at our disposal. So relatively easy and accessible. Taking for granted the excess that is North America, I did.
I feel your plight and I wish that I could produce 6 fold more machines for those lovely women's use.
My thoughts and prayers are with you. Bravo for your continued appeals and efforts and fight for the plight of humanity.
In spirit and love
sKY::

10:13 AM  
Anonymous Katie Mac said...

Sky!!!

7:10 PM  

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