I would first of all like to send a most sincere thank you to everyone I met for your contributions to making my stay such a happy one and in enriching my life, overall.
You reminded me of many niceties in life especially in the way you took time to genuinely greet each other whenever you met. You taught me patience, focussing on the moment and not always jumping to the next thing on the list. You helped me to consciously think about how just by being born and living in many parts of the world you can be held back from fulfilling dreams and achieving potential – a lack of healthcare facilities, no electricity, no running water, disease and illness, limited schooling opportunities, difficult climate conditions, few roads and minimal public transport – the list goes on
To the villagers – never before have I received such a welcome. From the moment I arrived, you made me feel totally at home, comfortable with everything around me. You welcomed me into your homes and community, you shared your food with me and most importantly you gave me your time. You managed to get on with your everyday life without all the trappings that I think of as normal. You had no electricity or running water yet never did I hear a complaint made about the efforts you went through, day in day out, to collect firewood from wherever you could get it and water from the pump in the village.
To the women’s choir – working with you on the feminine hygiene kits was both fun and humbling. As a group you looked after each other so well, you didn’t judge, you just helped each other whenever the need arose, teaching each other to sew, to use templates and evenly sharing the limited resources. You sang beautifully as you created the kits and you were even polite and didn’t laugh as I joined in the dances with you. You were focused on the task in hand and it was an absolute delight to watch you walk off with your finished kits.
To the ladies at the market garden – how you worked in such conditions I will never know. The sun was shining, the soil rock hard, you had no shoes yet you swung those heavy hoes to create beautifully turned soil in perfect drills. I am delighted that you are getting training in horticultural practices, budgeting and literacy. I wish you luck as your fertile gardens benefit from the irrigation system and as well as feeding your families you will be able to sell some crops for income
To the children – thank you for your constant smiles and enthusiasm for life. You were always so cheerful yet you had so very few clothes, no toys, often very little food and yet you could always smile. Visiting some of you in school was a privilege. I wish your eagerness to learn and willingness to grasp every opportunity, could rub off on some of our young people over here. You were attending school, which like your homes had no electricity and you still turned up, many of you having walked for over an hour to be taught in dark overcrowded classrooms with chalkboards being the major teaching aid. I loved watching your play specifically written for World Malaria Day; it really made me think of the devastating impact malaria has on you and your families.
Outside of school I loved to watch your creativity, sometimes playing Bao, but instead of using a board you hollowed shapes in the sand and used stones as counters. I smiled when I saw you using empty flour bags as dressing up clothes, singing and dancing at every opportunity and always looking after each other especially the toddlers who wanted to be with you
To everyone I once more say “Zikomo kwambiri” (thank you very much)