Wednesday, June 2, 2010

“A Look at a few Homes”

To learn more about the brave women of WEEP, Mary wanted to take us to see some of their homes. We headed deeper into the slums.

The buildings were tall cement structures, four or five stories high. On all the balconies, clothes were hanging out, drying despite the cloud cover. The buildings were close together with narrow passages in between them.

The first of the homes that we saw was at the end of an alley and was a stark ten foot by ten foot space. The only things in the cement room were a Jiko (a compact stove which burns charcoal), a few clothes, a hanging sheet separating the sleeping area and a blanket on the bare cement floor. This woman and her daughter had been living with her brother, his wife and their four children in the same size apartment before Mary, through the WEEP project, had moved her into this room.

Another woman had just moved into a similar home where her only furnishings were a borrowed mattress and a chair loaned to her by her neighbor. Her husband had kicked her and her daughter out when he found out she had AIDS. She had been living on the streets when Mary met her.

Both of these women were given one of the quilts we had brought with us. And Vickie told Mary to take WEEP money and buy them each a mattress.

Along one of the many passages we walked I witnessed one of those scenes that get burned into our brains. None of the buildings had running water inside of them, but at various places throughout the slum there were city water spigots. At the end of an alley, just before we turned into one of the homes, was one of those faucets. Standing there in a rusted bucket was a young girl of maybe eight or ten years old. She was stark naked, thin as a rail and shivering. All alone, next to a muddy puddle of water, she was washing herself with a grey rag.

Of the many things we saw on this trip that is one of the pictures I carry in my head, reminding me that I live in a world so far away from hers.

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