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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

We stopped at a tin door, surrounded by a thorny bush ...

I was especially looking forward to our home visits for Kind Hearts because I have gotten to know the kids so well over the last 2 years.  Our first home visit would be to Bontu's and Jirgna's home - a brother and sister who have been attending the care-point since I first started working with Kind Hearts.

Bontu slipped her hand into mine as we walked to her home and her other hand held Maea's.  Jirgna walked with Apryl (his sponsor) and I could tell this very, very shy boy was very, very proud to take her to his home.

Only about an 8 minute walk from the school, down a dry, dusty road, we stopped at a tin door surrounded by a thorny bush.  The thorns surrounding the doorway were at least 1-2" long!  Jirgna pulled a key from his pocket to unlock the padlock, and with a flourish of his hand, he waved us through the door into the small yard.

The small house on the far right belongs to another family.

In a corner of the yard, a pit latrine is surrounded by plastic sheeting
to reduce the smell and provide a bit of privacy.

We then entered the house and sat on the few chairs that were placed around the walls in their 2-room house.  No running water, but they had a wire running to the nearest electrical line which powered a single bulb dangling from the ceiling.  What a comfort and convenience it must be to have light from that single bulb when it's needed!

With disappointment we learned that their mother was not available because she had to work that day.  Jirgna then rushed out the door to run to the nearby factory where she worked to see if she could come.  We sat inside the house with Bontu while the temperature seemed to rise and rise.  It was hot and stifling in the small room.

The red sheet covers the door to the bedroom and provides a little privacy.

Bontu showed us the small bedroom where she sleeps on the floor with her brother - while her parents sleep on the small bed.  She showed me a roll of animal hides under the bed that her and Jirgna sleep on next to the bed.  Stips of drying meat hung from the ceiling in the bedroom where the walls had been covered with newspaper, I assume to minimize the dust from the mud walls.  The floors and ceilings in both rooms were covered with plastic tarp.

I asked Bontu if she knew about her sponsor family, and she gave me a sweet smile and a look that said "Of course I do, Silly!"  (Bontu is sponsored by my husband's parents.) 

She then walked over to a cardboard box in the corner, dug down to the bottom of the box and pulled out a zippered pouch.  Inside the zippered pouch, she pulled out another smaller pouch that held her personal treasures ... and she triumphantly pulled out photos of her sponsor family! 

Maea pointed to her grandparents to explain her relationship and Bontu quietly said, "I know."  (Later in the week, Bontu made a button bracelet in one of our classroom sessions and she gave it to Maea to give to her grandma.  Grandma Jean is still wearing that button bracelet today.)

Just then Jirgna returned, somewhat out of breath, explaining that the factory had not given his mother permission to leave so we would not get to meet her.  Just as we were getting ready to leave for our next home visit, their mother came through the doorway, a little out of breath and aplogizing profusely for not being there when we had arrived. 

We put her at ease and then she went on to explain how last week, Bontu had come home from school telling her that her sponsor and several guests from America would be coming to their home!  Her mother had smiled to herself thinking, "What tall tale is this?!"  She had not believed that anyone was really coming to visit and she was mortified to discover that we really had come to visit.

We explained that we knew she needed to get back to work and we asked a few brief questions and then offered her our encouragement and prayers - along with a much appreciated gift of coffee beans and sugar. 

She works at the alcohol factory while her husband works at the tannery.  Sponsorship at Kind Hearts has enabled her children to go to school and have nutritious meals every day while her and her husband are now both able to work which covers the rent for their home.  She explained that another family built a small home right next to theirs (the small structure to the right of their home) which also provides a bit of income. 

With many hugs, we said our goodbyes, as Jirgna and Bontu took hold of our hands and lead the way to visit their friends' home.

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