Becky Green is Head of Missions at The Forge Community Church, Debenham, Suffolk, which has been partnering with Hands in Zambia for several years. Here, Becky writes about her experiences during her recent visit with a team from the church:
Christina and Douglas are brother and sister.
They live in the community of Maposa, Zambia and attend the school there. Christina is 7 years old at a guess, and her younger brother is just 12 months. They are inseparable.
We visited Maposa on a Thursday. Earlier in the week, as a team we were looking at what it means to be made in the image of God, and how this has to shape our response to the poor. On the Thursday I saw the image of God played out, right there in Christina and Douglas.
The school at Maposa is large, with about 350 children in total. The day was manic with us deworming the children, doing eye tests and playing games with them. All the children were so keen to join in and were running around in the persistent sun just excited to be with the Muzungu’s (white folk).
However Christina couldn’t play with us or the other children. She was busy. Every attempt she made to separate herself from Douglas was met with screams and tantrums. The poor lad just didn’t want to be apart from his loving and caring older sister. But she didn’t make a fuss. She dutifully hung on to him and comforted him.
It made me angry to start with that a 7 year old girl had this responsibility, literally strapped to her back. That she had to care for her brother and missed out on playing. I don’t know her family situation, I don’t know if she lives with parents, grandparents or others. But it was pretty clear that she does a lot of the caring for Douglas.
The remarkable thing is that no one taught her that. No one sat her down and said this is how you look after your brother. Remember she’s 7. There’s this inbuilt compassion and nurturing ability in her very being. Something that makes her love, care and look out for Douglas. There’s God inside her.
If I ever needed a picture of being made in the image of God, it was right there in Christina. With our heavenly father’s compassion and grace she was imaging God.