On Monday, the 6th of September and Wednesday the 8th the 1 1/4 acres of ploughed ground was prepared and planted. What a party!! When we arrived on Monday, about noon - couldn't get there any sooner due to transportation issues - we found about 41 widows (one or two actually married folks) sitting in Marty's Prayer Chapel finishing their chai and bread! These women had come from all over the village and from several miles away in other areas to voluntarily work on the Widows Farm for their destitute sisters. Actually there were a few of the very old destitute widows amongst them (they were there for encouragement and to take care of babies). There was a man there - Joel - who was helping to oversee the project. The women had spent the morning, from about 8 AM, tilling the soil to prepare it for planting of the maize on Wednesday. What a wonderful way to use that clump of Bondo Trees for the very first time. Charles, is the man who has been working so hard to clear the land of brush and weeds and ant hills, and digging ditches to control rainfall (to keep the ground from eroding and use the rain in the ditches to irrigate the crops by osmosis). He has cleared out the saplings and bushes that Marty wanted removed from the Bondo grove in order to make the area into a place where she can go to have quiet times and to have small groups of women over to pray and also have meetings. It is developing quite nicely, and when we arrived and saw how the women automatically went into it for shade and rest; we were delighted to see how it drew people to itself, and served an additional purpose from the original intention.
No sooner did we get there than it began to rain. So they all got up an filed back to the church for shelter. When we got there we both told them, through a lovely lady who was interpreting for us, how wonderful they were to have spent the morning working so hard to see to it that the destitute widows - their sisters - would have food. John told them all that he thought they were so wonderful that if he wasn't married he would marry all of them! (Many giggles!) Of course Marty informed them all that he is "the husband of one wife" (more laughter). Now John has a long established history that has taught him not to try to make jokes in another culture. Yet, he still sometimes doesn't heed the little red flag that warns him. So, since his little jest went down so well, he went for another joke. He told them that he was going to buy a leso for Joel for the next time he worked with them. Note: A leso is a colourful piece of fabric, about 1X1.5 meters, that every village woman owns and uses for many different things. It is used to wrap around oneself to keep your skirt clean, to sit on, to wrap thing in to put on your head, to carry a baby, as a fan, to wipe perspiration off yourself, to protect yourself from the sun and sometimes rain, etc. They always have a proverb printed on them in Kiswahili - usually mentioning God. Well, there was much cheering, ululating and laughter!! Marty told John that his joke really went over big! He was quite pleased with himself!!! We did a whole lot of singing and dancing with them. (It takes very little to get villagers from the church to sing and dance.) A little bit later when we were making the plans for Wednesday - the day for planting the maize - Irene, our interpreter, asked when we would be bringing the lesos. Marty asked her to say it again to be certain she heard her correctly .... she had! What with his accent and the communication gap, instead of hearing him say "I will buy Joel a leso", she heard "I will buy you all a leso!) THAT'S why there was so much joyous reaction!! Then the leaders made a list of all the ladies that worked that day and added a few who had worked originally on the first crop but weren't there that day.All in all there were 47! When Marty told them that there was no way to have them by Wednesday because they would all need to be hemmed (on the ends), they said that they would be willing to wait to get them after church on Sunday. So, the next day Marty went to market in the village, and with the help of , an interpreter and also a seamstress, went to every vendor who sold lesos and bought up all that were in the market. Then on Sunday, after church, we used the list, called names and handed out the leso that was on top to the name that was called.
The day they planted the corn we both wanted to help. John kept up quite well for a couple of rows. Marty wasn't as adept - they kept saying hurry up, faster, faster. Then one of the younger women gave me a leso and told me to go sit under the bushes with the old widows and hold babies. Marty protested that she wanted to work and the woman very gently explained that holding babies was her work. Do you want to know something? Those women are STRONG - they just kept going and going - determined to finish that day. By the following Wednesday the maize was beginning to germinate and on the 20th. the women gathered again to plant beans along side of the maize. The maize stalks will act as bean poles, and the beans plants will restore nitrogen to the soil. A good time was had by all. We gave Joel a leso for his wife, since he couldn't wear one himself!
|Marty Was Relegated to Hold Babies with These Grandmothers|
It was a pleasant and much cooler job!
Be Blessed - Every one of you!
John and Marty