After dark (that’s around 7 here) can be, for me, the most challenging time of the day – too weary to read, not ready to sleep, and no tv (CNN) to fill in the gap. Fortunately, I have a laptop and some DVDs. Rushing last year (I can’t believe it’s almost been a year!) to pack all the ‘necessities’, I forgot a few of my favourites. My sister Sheri came to the rescue, bless her, and got them on a container to Musenga. So last night I was watching Little House on the Prairie, Season 1, where the Ingalls move to Walnut Grove and thinking how much life in Mbayi resembles the American Frontier of the 1870s (minus the Olesons which made for interesting tv but please pardon me for saying that I’m relieved not to have a Mrs. Oleson!). No electricity, and unlike the Ingalls, if they have a lamp, many can’t afford kerosene. No running water, except in the stream, outhouses, cooking done over an open fire – life’s a struggle. My 7-10:00 problem diminished!

Right now, in Mbayi, maize is being harvested, 1 cob at a time, sacks heavy with corn carried to storage. I came upon a woman pounding dried kernels to make a bit of flour for nshima- toil or starve – that’s the reality here. She literally danced with joy when I offered her a bag of mealie meal.

Now that the rainy season is over the women are back in the gardens growing vegetables for market- thanks to donations to this mission of empowerment – waiting for the permanent chicken house to be completed.

In “Little House” Charles built his family a home with wooden floors and windows of glass. They were poor, no question, but I wouldn’t say they lived in poverty. Poverty is extreme, severe, no windows, dirt floors, bleak, heart breaking. Together we are helping those suffering in Mbayi to take heart and as each project comes to fruition I see a new optimism emerging, belief in better days to come. Belief that with God nothing is impossible!