Last week Mbayi community experienced the loss of two of our seniors. They were neighbours and good friends, often found together relaxing and chatting in the shade after early morning chores. Lucy, 83, was the first to pass away, peacefully on Sunday morning, and Fly, 92, after hearing this followed her the very next day.
Lucy and Fly were part of a group of elderly, all about the same age, who gathered to ask for my help back in 2010 when I first arrived in Mbayi. They said they were cold and Canadians sent warm sweaters and blankets. They requested maize seed and we provided. Imagine—planting and harvesting at that age! Weary from a lifetime of physical toil, arthritic and often hungry, they persevere, eking out sustenance from the soil for survival. I thank God that through your sharing we are able to sustain them with regular deliveries of legumes, fish and mealie meal. When they are sick I can take them to the clinic. When their thatch roofs are leaking I bring them sheets of plastic for patching. Fly was going blind and with donations I managed to get him cataract surgery. So many of them are alone in the world having outlived their children. Alone, Lucy raised her grandson, an orphan, from infancy.
As I sat on the earthen floor of Fly’s hut mourning, with his niece and some neighbours, his passing, glancing at his body covered with that warm blanket from Canada and noticing the sparseness, the bare essentials—just a few pots and pans . . . I was so grateful for the privilege of bringing to his last years, and Lucy’s, some comfort, an easing of suffering. They no longer had to worry about starvation or undergoing sickness without treatment. They knew the love of God expressed through others in a community so very far away. And Lucy, after being without since the early years of her marriage, had a mattress to sleep on! As is the custom, Lucy’s grandson will now travel to the village where she was born to announce her passing. We talked about missing her lovely smile and I remembered how she prostrated herself on the ground, thanking God, the first time I brought her a small bag of seed. Their huts sit empty now but, thanks to contributions from some of you, are surrounded by fields of very healthy looking maize, a reminder of the hope they had, that this year they would not go hungry.
Thank you for caring and sharing. Many are benefitting from your generosity!