A partner's story

Monday, 16 May

Becky Green is Missions Leader at The Forge Church, Stowmarket, Suffolk, which has been partnering with Hands for several years. Here, she tells her story about her recent trip to Zambia.

‘In April, I had a non-stop crazy week in Zambia with my travel buddy Wendy.

It was a great week but one experience I will not forgot for a long time is staying with a family in the community. We’d been warned this could be a difficult experience where we would be totally out of our comfort zones. No running water, no bed and possibly no toilet. The only guarantee was an insight into real community life.

So Saturday afternoon we headed to a nearby community called Tehila (think Tequila). Dyness, our host, told us her home was a short walk away from the church where we met, so laden with bags and groceries we headed off in the scorching heat. 45 minutes later we arrived at her home. If I’m honest neither Wendy nor I would have made it much further, and we weren’t even carrying the bulk of our stuff.

At her home we were pleasantly surprised how lovely it was. Dyness had obviously gone to a lot of trouble cleaning and sorting in preparation for us. We were quite prepared to slum it for the night but it turned out we didn’t have to! We were shown to our own bedroom where we had a bed complete with mosquito net, there was a bathroom with a standard toilet (it didn’t flush mind) and a small kitchen area. The lounge was furnished with a red three piece suite and a coffee table that you would easily find in Ikea. A long way from the hut we imagined.

Dyness’ household is made up of her, her husband, six children and her husband’s grandmother. So the house was quite full for the night. In the early evening we all congregated outside and started to prepare the supper. They intended us to do the cooking but soon realised that after watching my attempt to cook nshima (porridge like maize) they were far more capable. I did have to giggle when Wendy, a vegetarian, had to consume the sausage that was given to us.

The younger boys thought everything we did and said was hilarious. They had us learning Bemba but found that just as funny. The evening went on and we appeared to be the local entertainment. Every five minutes or so more people would show up to see the Muzungus (white people). Night time came and as we headed to bed the family continued clearing up and tidying the home.

The next morning, Dyness was up at 5am sweeping the house, boiling water for our baths and laying out breakfast. We were truly treated like royalty. My good friend, Dan Waspe, had kindly demonstrated a bucket bath to us the day before – has to be the funniest thing I have seen all year but then it actually came to having one. We were so fortunate to have hot water but it was quite an experience standing in a concrete tray with a bucket of hot water. The bathroom did have a door of sorts, for which we were thankful, but a lot of giggling was going on behind that door so I would question the privacy of said bathroom.

We were then treated to peanut butter on bread and shortly headed off to the 4 hour church service but I’ll leave that story for another day.

I loved spending time with Dyness and her family. They taught me so much in such a short time. I don’t think I have ever met such hardworking and hospitable people, who despite adversity just kept on giving. I can only hope to treat others like she treated us and to make the sacrifices she makes in order to bless others.

Thank you, Dyness.