As we barrel towards the goal of reaching 100,000 orphaned and vulnerable children by 2010, I am very excited some amazing things are happening at Hands to add to our momentum. You’ll read in detail about some of them elsewhere in this newsletter and online at our website. But I want you to know that in Mozambique, Carlos has already expanded into two new areas along the Beira corridor: a trucking route and HIV-flash point.
At the very time that I was first walking these areas with Carlos, a Hands at Work partner from Toronto, Canada, Pastor Charles Price (Living Truth) was landing a film crew on the ground to produce two TV programs on our work in South Africa and Mozambique (airing Oct 12 and 19) to raise funds and awareness on our behalf. Very near that time, also, I joined a Hands at Work team in Zimbabwe where we met amazing women who share our passion to care for children at risk, as well widows and the dying.
News has also come in of the tremendous growth of our Canadian country office and its partnership with our Canadian Anchor Partner, Westside King’s Church; our Australian country office was recently incorporated legally in Australia and we received a team from Australian Anchor Partner Whittlesea Church; and a new friend, Grace Church from USA, sent a team to encourage our volunteers in Kabwe, Zambia.
Hearing me list this detailed, organizational type stuff, you might wonder how it gets me so excited. Well, that stuff excites me because on the days that I’m not knee-deep in office work, I get to spend my days with people who remind me exactly why all this boring, organizational stuff is important. Like the day after I returned home from my trip to Canada in August.
Still drowsy from jet lag I went into the village after I heard one of our Masoyi Home Based Care volunteers had passed away. Entering the house of this woman’s mother—a grandmother now adding two orphans to her care—I was immediately confronted by the wailing of a grieving mother. I had known this woman’s daughter very well and had walked Masoyi’s streets with her for years. The last time I had met her, a few weeks earlier, she said to me: “I am ready to die, George. But I’m so scared for my children’s future.”
That day as I watched her mother crying, I remembered her words so well. I wondered, What can I do? Where do I start? I stuttered over my words as I tried to encourage the mother. A few minutes later another elderly women neighbor walked into the room. She immediately sat next to the mother and just held her. The mother spoke of her pain, and the neighbor just held her and answered, with a typical African phrase, “Jami Nkosi Jami,” meaning “sorry, oh my Lord, sorry”.
As I watched this, I saw how much comfort the mother found in these words. The neighbor got up, walked to, me and said, “You are my brother, and I am your sister,” even as she smiled with much pain in her eyes. Later that day I thought about it more: “I am her brother.” I like that. I am proud to be a brother of one who brings encouragement to those who weep. I like that, and I want Hands to be exactly that. The details and structure are the way we reach to those who weep. We must always remember that.We must always go back to the widow who lost her daughter. She is the reason we do this at all.