Saturday, November 17, 2007

Shelton, Margret & Concilia - Zimbabwe Day 10

Ok, Ok! So, I'm going out of order - so sue me! :) The truth is, I can't go any further with this without telling you about Shelton, Margret & Concilia. When I think about my trip, I think about these 3 kids. When I pray for Zimbabwe, I think about these 3 kids. And when people ask me "how was your trip?" - I think about these 3 kids.

So, here's the story...

When the team was in Mtshabezi, at the BICC Mission, we did quite a few home visits - meeting with many of the people who they work with at the BICC AIDS Project. This particular day was quite hot, long, and emotionally challenging. We met with 4 families that day, and attended one funeral (which I'll share about another day). After the funeral, we went to one of the local primary schools, and picked up Shelton, Margret & Concilia so we could see their home and interview them. I have a hard time photographing and being a good listener, so I have to admit that I don't have all of the details on these kids - but that's what video's for! Hopefully my team can fill in some of the gaps (or correct my mistakes)

Shelton (8) & Margret (10) are brother & sister, and Concilia (11?) is their cousin. The three of them live in the home they used to share with their mothers, who were sisters. And they live alone. Shelton, as the "man" of the family, is the child head of household. Their Grandmother lives nearby, but they actually live alone. I think that both of their mothers died of AIDS, and now the BICC AIDS Project helps them by paying their school fees, providing some food when possible, and sending them to pscyho-social support camps during school breaks. The AIDS Project is supported, in part, by Forgotten Voices and is making a huge difference in the lives of these kids, and 1700 others in the area.

This is their homestead, which includes a kitchen (on the right) and a small bedroom (left) and no bathroom or other sheltered space.

The girls leading us onto the property.

This is their kitchen. Notice that there are no chairs, no tables, and gaping holes in their roof. Please also note that it is now RAINY SEASON in Zimbabwe...

This is absolutely the thing I think about most when I think about these kids. See that bowl of greens in the photo below? Those are weeds they've gathered from the bush surrounding their home. That's all that they eat when they're at home. Thankfully, their school is able to provide 1 meal per day because their school is supported by a project through World Vision. The meals at school don't include meat, and this is all they have outside of school. This is what I'm thinking about while I'm eating my dinner, and when I see food being thrown into the garbage. And this is what makes me think that while we're doing a lot to help these kids, we aren't doing enough yet.

We interviewed them in the kitchen and asked them all sorts of questions about their life and about what they want for their future. I can't for the life of me remember what they each said they wanted to be when they grow up - but maybe one of my team mates can leave a comment below letting us know? I was so distracted by that bowl of weeds that it was all I could do to keep taking photos and not start bawling - so apparently I didn't listen to the whole interview.

After the interview, we were also able to pray for the children, and then take a tour of their homestead.

This is the room that they share - which has a leaky roof as well. The girls sleep with Shelton in the middle (on a pile of blankets on the floor), and the oldest sleeps closest to the door. You can see how much they protect and take care of each other.

And this is their garden.

With very little rain so far this year, and seeds hard to come by, you can see that not much is growing in here.

Near the garden, just outside the fence of the homestead are 2 graves. The kids' mothers are buried here.

But, these kids are still just normal kids. Laughing, playing...

The girls thought it was HILARIOUS when Obert (who works on the AIDS Project, and who you'll hear much more about in another post) tried jumping rope too.

But these kids don't just get to laugh, and play, and do homework and have fun - like most kids in America. These kids have to take care of one another, take care of their home, do all of the chores, gather food, collect seed pods to use as candles, bathe themselves, wake up on time, walk 2 hours to get to school each day, and know that their parents are gone.

My heart aches for these kids, and I pray for them every day. Would you join me in praying for them as well?


  1. Love these pictures!! They are such amazing kids. Concilia and Shelton both said they wanted to be teachers when they grow up, and Magret wants to be a nurse.
    ~ Ellen

  2. Wow, these are beautiful! The environment shots are really strong compositions... I think I see a book jacket in your future...

  3. Love your work! Found your blog through FVI.

    We visited these kids just a couple weeks after you did. Want to see them on video? Check it out on my blog. :)

    the meeting house

  4. Glad you were able to visit my blog and see the short video interviews. You mention in this post that someone from your team was doing video when you visited the kids. Is it online somewhere? If so, can you provide me a link please? (Just drop it in a comment on my blog)

    Your photos of them and their home take me back there in an instant.

    I also love your images of Mrs. Maposa. What an incredible woman!

    My family hopes to be living in Southern Africa soon. Perhaps we'll meet on that side of the ocean someday.


  5. What incredible pictures! I can relate as these kids are also who I think of when I think of Zimbabwe.

    Julianne :)