As I make my way to and from Matunda each day, I go along many make-shift shops, and over a large empty field that is used as a road, for congregating, and playing soccer. Within a day I had been greeted many, many times by especially the young kids, with, “How are you?”, often first with “Hey, mzungu” (white person). They don’t always know the answer when I answer, but they try. “Fine, how are you?” always gets them smiling (and me).
I feel safe here. Most people know us in the area around our project, and would probably protect us, if it came to that. Still you leave your watch, jewelry, and camera at home, and don’t go out at night alone. I also keep an eye on anyone behind me, but those are normal, and I hope, logical precautions.
Some people want to talk. “Where are you from?”, “What’s your name?”, and some ask if I can get them a job. I refer them to the contractor at work. Joseph is very good about getting the local people to do the work they can, but insists they do good work. He’s also good with them in a humane way, which helps stimulate them to do a good job. Again, it’s also for their community, and they tend to be proud of that.
And then the kids. All sizes “help” at the site; they shovel, carry stones, and push a wheelbarrow – sometimes with a kid or two in it. But the adults don’t send them away, they stimulate and help them. Not too full with that wheelbarrow, go this way to avoid the higher part of the foundation. Hold you shovel this way, and pace yourself to keep going. We can certainly learn something from that!
A couple of the older boys actually get paid for their work. I like to remind them that it’s education that will keep them from doing this the rest of their lives.
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