It's not for lack of stories that posts have been missing from me during the last 4 days. In fact, there are not enough words to adequately express all that needs to be said about these latest adventures. There have been no posts because we have been out in the bush, hunting down tiny villages and visiting projects in various remote locations throughout Mozambique. When I say that we were off the beaten path, I mean that literally. Internet access was beyond our reach.
Be forewarned that I will never be able to adequately capture everything that has taken place this week, but I will try to pick a few stories to demonstrate how my heart has been exploding at every new village and under every coconut tree.
Hanhane Women's Shelter
The Hanhane Women's Shelter houses 26 women who have been dispossessed by their families. They have literally been cast out of their homes and villages with absolutely no recourse due to accusations of witchcraft. There are no jobs available for these women. There are no houses. There are no provisions. They were literally left to die, and so they would have, if not for this haven.
We visited this oasis on Monday and were greeted with singing and joyous celebration by the women who were overjoyed to see us. Hand-made flowered lays were placed around our necks as we arrived and we were given cassava trees as symbols of their gratitude for their homes. Th MI provides shelter, food, and safe water through a well to these women who otherwise have no options.
Carolyn Belshe Orphanage
The first child I met at the Carolyn Belshe Orphanage was cradling the head of an old broom and lovingly wrapping it in a blanket as she pretended like this was her baby. She has no dolls or toys to call her own, but her imagination made up for the lack of material items. Luckily, I came equipped with teddy bears donated through my church and was able to supply a new baby for her.
Despite the lack of toys, the children living here are provided safe housing, food, and water, and they are given access to education. Though the budget is always extremely tight and the needs are great, these children are loved and cared for by house parents who have a passion for these children.
The MI recently provided a new arts center for these children and is continuing to work hand in hand with other organizations to meet the ongoing needs of these children who have no other families.
Chicuque Rural Hospital
Linens at the Chicuque Rural Hospital (CRH) are washed on big slabs of concrete using bleach (when they have it), and then dried in an open-aired room. Obviously, these are far from sterile conditions, but this is all they have. Although there are about 200 births that occur at the hospital per month, there is no OB/GYN on staff because they have been unable to find one. The incinerator for bio waste is a big brick oven on the back of the property. Although a proper incinerator was given to them by the government at one time, it has long since broken down and it has not been able to be repaired. Although these conditions seem rugged, this is one of the premier hospitals in the area. And people are treated and cared for to the best of their ability. The CRH also runs public health programs in the local villages and teaches people about hygiene and sanitation, malaria prevention, and provides testing for HIV/AIDS. They do amazing work despite the challenges.
Safe Water at Sahane
This is one of the places that I think of know when I say that we were off the beaten path. The MI has a four-wheel drive, off-road vehicle, and there were times that I thought that we honestly weren't going to make it. The "road" to Sahane is more like a suggestion of where people might think about passing through. We bounced along through coconut groves and sandy terrain until we came upon the village.
Once we arrived, we saw that although this community had previously suffered illness due to unsafe water and back breaking work carrying water for miles and miles, after many frustrations and years of difficult drilling situations, their well was finally completed last year.
There are no words to express the gratitude of these people. And they are amazing stewards of this gift. All members of the church contribute regularly to a maintenance fund for the well and have a storage of parts in case something goes wrong. They also have a safe water committee that maintains the well and makes decisions about upkeep.
Friends, this is the heart of the gospel. This isn't just something interesting that we do because we are kind and like traveling. As Christ followers, all of us are called to defend the orphan and plead the case of the widow. We are called to give, and serve, and go, and be lights in an often dark world where people are sick and lonely and abandoned. Consider this your challenge during this lenten season. How can you defend the orphan today? How can you plead the case of the widow this week? How can you be with the sick and provide water for the thirsty? How can you be a light in the darkness? The MI is just one opportunity. Go forth and shine.