Friday, October 17, 2008

You can't do it all 10/16

That's what Darin said to me this morning at Mama Catherine's. I had just spent 15 minutes walking around the property with MC while she showed me all the needs that they have. She does not talk about any “wants”, everything is a need. MC showed me the broken windows in the buildings where the kids sleep each night. She showed me the empty box of laundry soap, a box that she had just purchased that morning. We went into the boys sleeping quarters, the one building on the property that has electricity. However, there had not been electricity for a couple days because there wasn't any money to pay for it (you pay for the electricity in advance, and when the amount you purchased runs out, you have no power until you can pay for more). MC told me that the older kids were trying to do their schoolwork outside, using whatever light was given off from the lights of the township to read.

We went in the kitchen, which gets its power through an extension cord that brings electricity from the boys building. As there was no electricity when we were there, all the cooking was being done over an open fire. At 11 am, when we were starting to think about eating lunch, the kids in the creche were just getting their bowl of porridge for breakfast. There is no refrigerator in the kitchen, although several of the children are on medication that needs to be kept cold. They don't even have an electric kettle to boil water, something that costs around $10 and seems to be a common fixture for most people.

There were some older girls doing laundry by hand. I asked if they were volunteers, but MC said they were teenagers who should have been in school, but their school is too far away and she does not have enough money for gas to bring them to school every day. She had already taken them two days of the week. There were also three boys who looked to be about 12 who weren't in school for the same reason. I don't really understand the whole school system here, but I think that the kids can't transfer to a closer school because they are either missing paperwork, or they aren't “legally” in MC's care, so she can't just move them to different schools. While we were in the creche, she had 5 kids stand up who were between 6-9 years old. These were kids who could not go to school because they don't have a uniform. Different schools must have different requirements, because some of the other kids who don't have uniforms are still able to go to school. They just stand out as being different.

After talking to MC, I went over to where Darin was building the shower. I told him all the things she had just shown me and then asked if he had his wallet with him. That's when he said “you can't do it all”, which I know is true, but still, you have to do something, right? Darin did have his wallet, so I gave MC some rand to buy more electricity. She said thank you, and then immediately sent one of the boys to walk to the place where they buy the electricity, which was over a mile away.

We have recently found out that several people are interested in helping Mama Catherine, which is just awesome. We know of people from Washington, California, Wisconsin, Michigan and more that are going to help financially. We have also talked to Pixie, at Tamboti, about MC and she is hoping to get her church involved in some way. I wish we were going to be here longer (and that I could drive around by myself) so that I could try and do more. You may not be able to do it all, but in this situation, even doing a little makes a big difference.

1 comment:

Cooks said...

Wow, that's awesome! I so excited to see something positive happen for MC. Isn't it cool that you can just say, "here's some money for electricity" and then they go get electricity?! That's like, instant gratification for your kindness. I really hope that we can get something set up with people here in Michigan so that we can at least bring MC's place to a working level. And it's so neat to see other people interested too. Keep up the good work.

-JC