Friday, March 19, 2010

Moses and Violet

Moses appeared at my back door two weeks ago, a tool called a slasher in his hand. He asked if he could work for me, cutting the grass and tending my yard. He was thin and looked hungry. We sat and talked. He hasn't been able to send his youngest child to school yet, because he can't afford the fees. He has 3 children, and the youngest is 6. We looked at my yard, which is quite large. He said he could plant a vegetable garden, and put flowers near the front and back doors. I hired him. All Zambians receive training in agriculture if they go to school at all, and he knew just what he wanted to do to create a beautiful yard.
He has come every day for at least part of the day to work. He asked if I would pay him the first week's pay at the end of the week so he could use it to make an installment payment and enroll his child in the government school. After that, however, he wanted to be paid only at the end of the month, so he could be saving money. His mother is a widow living in a little village, and her only support comes from her two surviving children. Her house is falling apart, and he and his brother want to repair it before the next rainy season. Every time he comes, he shows me what he has done and tells me his plans. He has not asked for anything other than his salary, but when I learned that his children were having problems with mosquito bites, I bought mosquito nets for their beds. Such a little thing, but he showed such gratitude.

Violet came to my back door to ask if I needed someone to do my laundry and clean house. Everything must be washed by hand, no washing machines, and also must be ironed to kill bugs that lay eggs in the seams of the clothes as they dry outside. She has completed the teacher training program to be able to teach at the primary level and is awaiting the results of the national exam. Assuming that she passes, she will begin to receive a small monthly stipend from the government and within a year or so they will assign her to a school in a rural area.
Violet's story is all too common. Orphaned, she was passed among the homes of various family members. She was physically abused and maltreated. She stayed in school, but at age 16 married to get out on her own. Everything was all right for a few years, until her husband began to beat her and to go with other women. She decided she would be better off without him, so she took her two boys and left. That was when she came to work for Adrian, the chaplain at MEF. He saw that she was a hard worker and smart, so he asked about her aspirations. When she said she had always hoped to be a teacher, he sponsored her at the MEF teacher training program. She passed her first year exam with merit, quite an accomplishment for a single mother studying, tending her home, working as a maid, and going to classes all at once. She completed the second year, including practice teaching, and now is awaiting her future career. Meanwhile, she cleans for Adrian and me. Her boys are 6 and 9, I believe. She always has a beautiful smile as she greets me on Mondays and Wednesdays.

More people have come to ask if they could work for me. There is such a need for work, and a willingness to work, among people here. I wish I had a better way to respond than to tell them that I'm sorry, I have all the help I can use with Violet and Moses.

Keep us all in your prayers.

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