From Despair to Hope

From Despair to Hope

January 10, 2020

It’s hard to describe the situation we got into today.  Anna, our MAP director (Neema’s Mothers Against Poverty program) had been asked by one of our nannies to check out a woman who needed help. A widow with 5 children was homeless so Mama Samueli, one of our nannies, had given her a room.

We had to park the car and walk down some narrow mud alleys, places where you could easily get lost, and after asking directions a number of times we came to the house. 

It was mud and sticks with one small window that let in so little light I could not see the woman. I turned my phone on so we could see. She had a bed and a bucket which she turned upside down for Steve to sit down. 

We four, Jessica, Marilyn, Bronte and I sat on the bed and Zubeda, the mom, and 3 of her children crowded around, her clothes were hanging around our heads. 

It is hard to describe despair, but we could feel it as we listened while Anna quietly interpreted Zubeda’s words for us. 

Her husband had been killed on a pikipiki, that is a motorcycle taxi which is how many people get around in Arusha. After she could not pay the rent she had to leave her house and had not been able to find a place to live so Mama Samueli was letting her live in this room. The bed took up most of the room. It wasn’t much of a room, but it was free.

I was desperately trying to think what all Zubeda needed and what we could do. She needed everything. She had no food, Mama Samueli had given her some ugali, cold corn meal mush.  We asked her where she cooked, and she replied I have no food to cook. There were no lights, no bathroom, no kitchen, just four mud walls, a mud floor and a rusted tin roof. We weren’t sure where all six of them slept. Her beautiful little girl should have started to school this month, but she didn’t have clothes and mom could not afford lunches or uniforms or books.

We asked how we could help. After talking with Anna, Zubeda thought she could make a business selling used shoes, we noticed she was barefoot. She will come to Neema Village in the next few days and talk with Anna about how we can help her get started in a shoe business. First she will need to move to a bigger room, near foot traffic where she can work a business. A room with a light bulb would be nice.

Dear God, this is hard. Your son spent so much time with the desperately poor, I’m not sure how he did that day after day and kept his sanity.

If you have a floor that doesn’t turn to mud when it rains, please be thankful today.