Thursday, August 23, 2012

the women of ndola

Being a woman isn't an easy thing anywhere.  Being a woman in Zambia..... well it seems to be about as hard as it gets.

This is "Mama".

Mama has been cooking for one of Wiphan's schools for 12 years.  This steaming pot of corn meal is called shema.  It's a staple food in Ndola.  It's cheap and filling and provides nutrients.  Let me tell you something - Mama is one STRONG woman.  She offered to let me try stirring the shema.  I. could. not. move. the. spoon.  It was a little bit embarrassing.  She just stirred and flopped that stuff around like it was in a small pot on the top of my stove.  I left in awe of Mama.

This is Gertrude and two of her graduated students.  Gertrude teaches the hospitality program for Wiphan.  She trains these girls in the area of hospitality so that they can secure jobs in lodges and hotels around town.  Nearly every single girl or guy (there are a few guys) that comes through her program goes on to secure employment right out of training.  Gertrude does an AMAZING job with these women. 

This is Elizabeth.  Elizabeth works with Wiphan.  Her job is to create new families!  Elizabeth pairs orphans who have no other place to go with widows who have no means of providing for themselves.  These widows care for the orphans and receive support from Wiphan for their basic needs like food and blankets and sometimes even a home if needed.

These are the women who work in Wiphan's jewelry program.  They make beads and then jewelry from paper and seeds.  The jewelry is then sold in Ndola and also brought back to the U.S. to be sold to raise money for Wiphan.  

We had the privilege of visiting with and praying over these women and children.  This is one of the families being served by Lifespring's Home Based Care ministry.  
They were busy popping popcorn to sell. 

These women sit by the side of the road EVERY DAY crushing rock.  For hours and hours with their  children sitting nearby, they break stones to create gravel for sale.  See what I mean when I say being a woman in Zambia is just about the hardest thing you can imagine?  I learned that widows in Zambia are basically discarded people.  If a woman's husband dies, his family has the right to come and take everything from her.  Nothing belongs to her.  She is often left with literally nothing.  On top of that, they have some superstitions that lead them to believe that her dead husband's spirit can only leave her and rest in peace if she sleeps with (basically is raped by) a man who is considered able to "cleanse" her.  Can you even imagine?  

The women of Ndola are beautiful and strong.  Some of them are clearly hardened by the unbelievable circumstances under which they only manage to survive.  But so many of them are full of hope and joy and choose to praise God even under these circumstances.  They inspire me and they challenge me in my weakness.  Especially Mama.  Mama and this lady breaking stones all day long - these are WOMEN.  I'd like to think I would be woman enough to gladly stir shema with a 6 foot spoon everyday or break rocks with a tiny hammer everyday if that's where I found myself in this life - but I can't say that I think I'd be woman enough.  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

the children of ndola....

This little girl found out my name and told me HER name was Jenny.

Then this little girl told me her name was Jane.  I think she thought that was my name.  Her name was actually Mercy. But these kids will do or say anything to have a connection with you - with any adult that will give them their attention.  Mercy was my sidekick the entire time we were at Mapolo school.  She said to me, "My mother is died.  My father is died.  I am your baby.  You are my mother."  Even as I type this I can't hold back tears.  I was thankful for sunglasses that day.  Look at those eyes.  They tell me that this little girl has experienced more loss and pain and in her short life than I could ever imagine.  The couple of hours that I held her hand and put my arm around her can't begin to put a dent in the healing that this little girl needs to experience.  But healing is in HIS hands, and I'm thankful I could be His hands for a few short hours.  Oh, those eyes.  

The children are captivating - and easily captivated.

They work.  Oh how they work.  

They play.

They are so resourceful. This is probably his only "toy".  This little boy was also always chewing on a plastic bag.  It made me so nervous.  And I couldn't help but wonder if it was because he was hungry.

This little girl had found an old reel of film and was making a purse out of it.

They take care of each other.

Some of them just survive.

Notice the stickers on this little girl's face?  This was the day that the kids opened letters from their sponsor families.  If you sponsor a child through any organization and have ever wondered what it's like when your child receives your letter or package, let me tell you, it's a BIG day for these kids.  The letters and photos and stickers they receive are clearly their treasured possessions.  If you don't already sponsor a child to receive an education, food, and health care - I know some kids who could really use it.  Wiphan needs a LOT more sponsors for these amazing kids!  Let me know if you're interested!

 And some of them have so much joy that you're pretty sure they have no idea that they are among the "poorest" people in the world.  

But whether their name is Jenny or Jane or Mercy - and whether they are hauling water, playing soccer, creating something out of nothing, caring for siblings, dancing, or just sitting around waiting for their world to change.... they all bear the beautiful image of Jesus Christ.  And we, friends, for reasons beyond our understanding, have been born under circumstances that allow us to minister to Christ!  He said if we feed one of these kids - we are feeding HIM.  If we reach down to hug them and hold their hand as we walk through their poverty stricken compound - we are walking hand in hand with HIM.  Imagine!  If we provide clean water for these faces, we are offering our thirsty SAVIOR a drink! 

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you fed me.  I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink.  I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.  I was naked, and you gave me clothing.  I was sick, and you cared for me.  I was in prison, and you visited me.' "Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you? "And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!"

I didn't set out for this blog about the kids of Ndola to end with me begging you to sponsor a child - but it's where I find myself.  Please think about sponsoring one of these beautiful children that we've met and hugged and played with and laughed with.  It's so easy to feel removed from their struggles when we are removed by being halfway across the world in our land of plenty (or quite possibly our land of too much) that we live in.  But these kids are real kids with real needs and we can provide real help.  As you walk through the compounds of Ndola, you can clearly tell which children are being provided an education, a uniform, a healthy meal, and medical care.  
It's life changing for them.  

"Would this face lie to you?"

If you're interested in sponsoring a child through Wiphan please email me at and I will forward you on to Wiphan.  Thanks!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


On Monday morning we visited Lifespring School.  Lifespring also provides Home Based Care for people in the school's community who are HIV +.  They provide education, counseling, and help meet physical needs when they can.  The gentleman in the picture below, Bishop Dixon, oversees the Home Based Care program.  They had an impressive system and Pastor Dixon seemed to be an incredible man.  

We visited every classroom in the school and were very impressed by the teachers and children we met!

We helped walk this preschool classroom to the school yard for a demonstration.

Their teacher was teaching them about Noah's Ark.  Imagine teaching that story to children who've never seen a boat or water deep enough to swim in.  He took them outside and filled up a bucket that had a spout with water.  He placed a cup in the bottom of the bucket.  Then he put that green plastic plate on top of the water to show them how the ark floated.  And then he opened the spout to release the water.  When he did, the plate rested on the cup, showing the children how the ark rested on a mountain after the water receded.  How's that for brilliantly resourceful?

Lifespring School

Bishop Dixon and Pastor Dixon :).  They had an immediate bond.  Holding hands is a sign of friendship between men in Africa.  They had a long talk about ministry, his work and about the possibility of us moving there.  At one point Bishop Dixon looked at Duane and said, "You are not on the wrong soil."

As we were leaving the school we saw this.  This is just normal there.  
I still don't know what to do with this.

Monday night we had dinner with Wiphan's teachers.  Wow!  They are some amazing people.  They all seem to love what they do.  He's not in this photo, but there was one particular teacher named Joseph who came and sat down beside Duane.  Within 5 minutes they were leaned in toward each other having a very serious conversation about Jesus and marriage and pretty much anything he could get Duane to teach him about.  If we end up in Zambia, the moment that I looked over and saw Duane so deep in that conversation will be a defining moment in my decision that it's where God wants us to be. Duane truly has a gift for teaching, mentoring, and discipling people and these people are STARVING for someone like him to invest in them and help them grow.