While we love going home to California to visit friends and family, it is always difficult to leave our friends and students at Appleseed. Life for the poorest Zambians is harder than most of us can imagine, yet they are so very accepting of their situations. We returned to find many changes, both good and bad.
The first thing we were told was that our student, Lucky, had been ‘sent back the village.’ Lucky’s mother died last year and he had been staying with an aunt and uncle in Bauleni. The uncle decided that he did not want to care for Lucky anymore, so he put him on a bus and sent him to other relatives, over 8 hours away. At the time, Lucky was told that he was going for a visit, but when he arrived he was told that he would not be returning to Lusaka. He cried and told them that he is supposed to be in school. Our hearts are breaking for this young man. He had never attended school before he began at RHO Appleseed. He was learning and thriving. He was happy. He loved helping around the school and with the smaller children. We are told that he has made a call to his uncle, asking to come back. The uncle said no. Since then, two of our teachers, John and Vincent, who are also double orphans, still living with relatives, have said that they would like to get a place and take Lucky in. These men are so very kind and we believe that this would be the best thing for Lucky. We have approached the aunt and uncle with this idea. They have agreed, but as of yet, have not gotten word to the relatives in the village. We are holding Lucky’s sponsorship money in hopes of getting him a bus ticket back to Bauleni and moved in with Teacher John and Teacher Vincent. We will not give up on getting him back. Vincent has an uncle who works for Child Welfare and we will go through the proper procedures to have Vincent or John designated as his legal guardian. We worry, though, about his spirt being broken in the mean time. We hope that he knows that we love him and are doing what we can to get him back to school. It is times like these that we wish we had our own property with student dorms.
Our groundskeeper, Masau, is facing hard times as well. Upon returning, he told us that his wife, Joy, is very sick. At first, the doctor said that she had Malaria. This is a common diagnosis, often diagnosed without actually testing for Malaria. When she did not respond to the very powerful Malaria medicine, they did a pregnancy test. She is about 9 weeks pregnant, but still extremely ill. Two nights ago, Massau woke up in the middle of the night to find her unconscious. He frantically tried to find a taxi to transport her to the hospital. He has no car and had no money, as he had spent it all on her previous medical care. The next day, Friday, he called and told us of his situation. He was back at his home with his boys, but had no way to get back to the hospital to be with his wife. Before taking him to the hospital, Ken took him shopping for food for his wife, as the hospital does not provide any. When Ken saw her he said she looked very sick; in fact, he did not recognize her. She has since been released, but unfortunately, this does not mean that she is better or out of the woods. Masau and his wife have 2 young boys and care for their nephew as well. We are very worried about Masau and his family. Please keep them in your thoughts.
.... and more. The young man, Lameck, who we hire once a month to help us carry the food that we buy in bulk at Soweto Market, told us that his 23 year old wife died over the holiday. Lameck has 3 children, ages 2, 4 and 6 years old. Two girls and a boy. We asked him who is caring for them while he is here, lugging our food around in his rented wheel barrel. He replied, ‘The neighbors look out for them.’ When I hugged him and said how sorry I am, he replied, “It happened.”
Lameck is from South Africa, all of his and his wife's family is there. He feels so very alone here. He can not go back to South Africa right now as it is a very expensive trip for a family of 4. We have discussed the idea of him moving to Bauleni so that his kids can attend Appleseed, as they are not in school. When we can, we will employ him to help Masau.
Ken and Joy Hoffman. See the'Who We Are' page.