As you might imagine, being here reminds me of Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16: Deb and I are living in one of the nicer accommodations in the village — not just having running water but hot water! within a very nice tiled shower room; electricity, a stove and a refrigerator; screens in all the windows keeping out the pesky mosquitoes; a landscaper maintaining the flowers and plants; housekeepers who tidy up our apartment each week; and nighttime security guards to deter thieves (except one night when an uninvited guest came into our apartment looking for something of value). Though we’ve gone without meat most of the 5+ months of our stay, we have had plenty of apples, bananas, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, rice and beans, pancakes or all-the-works scrambled eggs every morning, and popcorn for our evening snack.
Meanwhile, outside our door, the vast multitude who live in Nkhoma barely scrape by — ladies picking up sticks to sell or to use for cooking (there is a smokey haze as high as the hills each morning and evening from all those making their meals over outside fires); children of various ages from the outer villages whose clothing has lost all color but that of the earth, who don’t go to school because they are tending to goats or cows, and because school fees and uniforms are much too expensive; patients at the Mission Hospital, just about 300 yards down from our place, whose family must provide all food for their loved ones as the hospital does not (except for infants).
It’s hard to wrap our heads and hearts around the fact that 70% of the people are striving just to subsist from week to week, month to month. They have no hope of rising out of their subsistence lifestyle, and to think that their kids have little chance to climb out of the same pervasive poverty because there is not enough money for them to acquire degrees that lead to better-paying jobs in healthcare, education or business.
By the grace of God, Deb and I are rich vastly beyond our basic needs, and we’ve been helped by God to realize what we’ve been given to give before it is too late as in the case of the unnamed rich man in the parable; while we still have ample opportunity to do all we can to share a goodly portion of what we have saved and from the generous donations we’ve received from churches, friends and family. How truly fortunate we are and what a blessing to pass on, as best we can, investments in the lives of these precious women, men and children of God.
Below, several pictures of the extent to which men push and pump to make a living, hauling heavy loads, from a delicate 40lb flower urn to 200lbs of charcoal sticks, using single-gear bikes, often times with just the metal pedal rod, and, sometimes, somehow, without shoes to bear the blunt force of their 100km journey to town and back. I bike because I can; they bike because they must.
Lord, give me eyes to see and a heart that helps me share more of what I’ve been blessed to earn, and save, and enjoy with those in need outside the comfortable confines of my home.
(The gentlemen, below, agreed to be paid for allowing me to take their photographs.)