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A friend shared this photo with me and it really struck a chord with my heart. There are many times where I want to go fast. Okay, okay, confession: I like to go fast all the time. I want to get things done, go, see, do—conquer the “mountain”—crush that to-do list and hold everything else in a number one priority state while doing it. But the truth is that in that place of existence one lacks a lot of growth and a whole mess of goodness. Often times God asks me to pace myself, to slow up enough to grasp a hand of a neighbor-helper or the firm grip of His strength and be confident enough to walk. Cruise. Dance. Depend. Trust. I’m pretty sure He says this a lot to me, but honestly I never pause long enough to hear it. Our culture has done a great job of ingraining in me that all too familiar frantic feeling that to pause is to cease. To pause is to vanish from view. When the reality is that, if one is daring enough to slow things down, one doesn’t actually fall behind or even shrivel up to nothing. Nope. In fact, walking still equals moving. You are still able to go from point A to point B and accomplish your goals and dreams. But within that walking model you can come to understand that the journey is much more splendid because one decided to take a hold of a hand instead of letting one go to get ahead. That you actually get to look around and take in instead of putting your head down, plowing through whatever is in front of you and take out. You begin to trust in the timing of God and grain strength and courage that comes with that process. You recognize that you can continue to work just as hard, but now you work with a much happier heart because you have found relief from your striving. Striving does not equal living. For when you shift back a bit, your world opens up a bit more and you give your heart permission to see. To see is to understand, to understand is to know, to know is to feel and to feel is to live. The glory of God is man fully alive.
What we’ve learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade. Romans 3:28
“The real damage is done by those millions who want to ‘survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves—or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, love small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.” ― Sophie Scholl
Just an article that I ran across that will give you a little peak into what our Kamalatu women are currently dealing with. Pray for rain, that God would sustain the women and their families and for courage to continue in the face of this disparity. (For reference, Lilongwe is the area that the Kamalatu live in, so I know that they are battling alongside the women you will read about in here.) “Lilongwe — Each night Esnart Phiri, a widow with five children, sleeps outside the gates of the state-run maize trader or Admarc market, in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe, as she waits for days on end to buy maize. Queues at Admarcs are never-ending as thousands of people wait for days to purchase the staple crop. Phiri told IPS that she puts her eldest child in the queue at night, in order to keep her place for the next day, while she sleeps with her other children in one of the office corridors across the streets. “The market has become my temporary home with my children because I have no energy to walk back and forth every day. I would rather sleep here and wait for the maize,” she said. Phiri is from Chinsapo Township, some 40 km from Lilongwe. This southern African nation has been hit by a maize shortage after two consecutive dry spells. Maize is Malawi’s most important food crop, accounting for 90 percent of all caloric intake, followed by cassava, sweet potatoes and sorghum. But, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Malawi’s cereal production for 2011/2012 was seven percent below the previous season’s harvest. Over two million people are facing food shortages this year due to the prolonged dry spells and soaring food prices that have pushed consumer inflation to 36.6 percent as of March. Phiri may not be willing to walk from Chinsapo every day, but each morning before the sun rises, a four-month pregnant Memory Jamesi wakes up and walks 40 km to the Admarc in Lilongwe. A few weeks ago the mother of three was so weak that she fainted while standing in the long Admarc queue. “I felt very weak and tired… I started shaking violently as I stood on the queue and I don’t know what happened after that,” Jamesi told IPS as she lay in her hospital bed in the over-crowded female ward at Kamuzu Central Hospital. But Jamesi’s plight is hardly unique. About five in 10 residents in Chinsapo said their children have gone hungry over the last few months, not only because of the maize shortage, but because they cannot even afford to buy it when it is available. During the last two years under the administration of (late president President Bingu wa) Mutharika, the fertiliser inputs subsidy programme was corrupted and the targeted families did not benefit because fertiliser was diverted. Secondly, two droughts, especially along the country’s maize belts, affected the harvests,” Luhanga said. However, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Peter Mwanza told IPS that the coming harvest was expected to be a strong one thanks to good rains. “Our first crop estimate shows that we expect to harvest 3.5 million metric tonnes, which is more than what we harvested last year,” Mwanza said. The initial harvest being forecast is more than the national requirement of 2.8 million metric tonnes. A 50-kg bag of maize used to cost around 13 dollars, but now the price has more than doubled to about 30 dollars – way above the earnings of those living in dire poverty, on less than 20 dollars a month. In a country where women make up 70 percent of the farming workforce and are the breadwinners in their families, women and children are bearing the brunt of the high food prices. The food situation has also worsened in the last two months, since about 30,000 metric tonnes of maize in the strategic grain reserves went bad. This, according to principal secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Jeffrey Luhanga, was enough maize to feed almost 400,000 of the two million people in need of food aid. “The 30,000 metric tonnes of maize that went bad was enough to feed the masses up to harvest period. But now we have had to import 50,000 metric tonnes from Zambia to help fill the gaps,” Luhanga told IPS. This was the first time in six years that Malawi has had to import maize from neighbouring Zambia. From 2006 to 2011, Malawi reaped bumper harvests of maize because of a successful fertiliser subsidy programme. Under the programme, which started in 2005, the poorest farming families are given a 40 percent reduction in the cost of fertilisers and seeds. It worked well for Malawi. In 2003, the country adopted the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which aims to help eliminate hunger and reduce poverty. But the two consecutive dry spells and corruption in the distribution and supply of fertiliser for the subsidy programme have cut the bumper harvests and affected yields.”
Last weekend, Unite for Sight hosted it’s 10th Global Health Conference and I found myself wandering around the campus of Yale University, bouncing from old building to old building, sitting in classrooms and lecture halls hearing all about global health issues. It was a glorious weekend full of meeting new people from all over the world, gathering information, hearing about the latest and greatest of global health ideas, gasping over current statistics and chit-chatting with NGO gurus…my mind is still on overload to say the least. So, while I continue to unpack all the information and ideas that I gathered during my time in Connecticut, here are some photos from my time spent there.
Follow the blue signs to your lecture sessions!
Can’t lie, I was pretty pumped to represent Kamalatu!
Mini WASH session.
Neat film about Nigeria and medical education.
Sanitation and women session.
Learning about how community health workers can change their villages.
Social entrepreneurial pitch session.
Silke, who works for Action Against Hunger, gave me lots of food for thought during this breakout session that I took with her.
To the Freedom of Espresso customer who knows very little about me but still slid a twenty my way for Kamalatu, I am humbled. May God bless you as you bless others! Zikomo kwambiri! (Thank you very much!)
I just wanted to share that Kamalatu is starting to put together a plan and a budget for an added focus to our group—fabric dying! (Check out one of the test swatches below) This has come about as we strive to make Kamalatu a fully life-giving and sustainable project. Our first dream that included our pigs, have produced less than what we hoped for with failed litters, swine flu attacks and just recently, a government ban on market sold pork due to a bacteria outbreak!–Oi! We are hurting, but we know that obstacles are just part of the learning adventure and so onward we must go! In the words of Thomas Edison “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” I pray that for Kamalatu, it won’t take a 10,000 tries, but if it does, I know that the success that will come will be much more sweet and cherished. We gladly take on these challenges, accept the growing pains and thank God for new opportunities like fabric dying!
It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great. –A League Of Their Own
As I sipped, splashed, sloshed around and showered in the wonderful element we call h20, I was especially grateful today. No amoebas! No parasites! No diarrhea! No boiling my water before I drink it! No need to heat my water before I bathe in it! No spending the majority of my day walking to the borehole or river to gather enough liquid to last the afternoon! With a turn of my wrist, just pure, clean, refreshing water coming straight from the tap. Mmmm. Mazdi wa moyo! (Water is life!) I am blessed!…
…before you go, I just wanted to share a small story that is probably one in millions, but to me, it’s MY one in a million. The little girl in the photo below—yup, the one with the playful smile who is hanging on her older sister—is Vanessa. I met her in 2009 while on an internship in the village of Mgwayi. When I returned in the summer of 2010, she was no longer around. No longer playing jump-rope with the other village girls. No longer trying on my sunglasses, laughing hysterically. No longer being an adorable tag-a-long to her older sister. Why? Malaria. Fever. Diarrhea. Sickness. Any way you put it, it was because of something as simple (which isn’t always as simple as you may think) as proper sanitation, understanding of hygiene care and having the foundation of safe, life giving water near by. Just because you it’s not your one in a million doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. With knowledge, resources, ability—power— comes great responsibility. Clean water is a right that everyone should have because the world needs all the inner beauty, innocence and joy found in all the Vanessas it can get.
This is an absolutely beautiful and brilliant advertising idea that I found in The Wall Street Journal this morning that is titled “First World Problems”. WaterIsLife based their campaign on tweets from all around the United States. Check it.
I accidentally cut my grapefruit on the wrong axis. #firstworldproblemsMy son got the wrong toy in his happy meal. #firstworldproblemsSat in the front row of a movie theater, now my neck is sore. #firstworldproblems
Although this is a day for the world to be more acutely aware of the struggle for equality in education and freedom from oppression for women everywhere, I can’t help but think of all the men in my own little world that have made a positive impact on my life. What if I didn’t have a father who valued his daughters as much as his son? Who would I be if I was forced to marry at an early age because my male family members decided it would be so? What would’ve happened to me if I worked at a place where the respect, support and care that I currently receive was replaced by a boss who would pay me less wages, who would harass and take advantage of me because I was female and therefore, lesser than? What kind of future would I have if my father had decided that it was better to keep me at home to tend to the fields and help with household chores instead of encouraging me in my education? How would my childhood memories differ if I had an older brother who beat me and made me cook, clean, and serve him because cultural norms said that this was completely appropriate? What would I have become if I lived in a community where males only took notice of me just because they wanted to use my body for their pleasure or where they completely ignored me and forced me to cover myself from head to toe because I was a woman?
To my Father, Brother, Mike, John D. and Jon R.—and to all the men who are in my life— it is with deep gratitude that I say thank you for all your encouragement, respect, care and support!
Also, check out this trailer for a movie called Girl Rising that was just released yesterday. I am very, very excited by this!
Take courage, join hands, stand beside us, fight with us.-Christabel Pankhurst