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Finding a friend (Becky Jack)

August 2nd, 2013 by Forge

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Last year, on a visit to Maposa, I met a little girl named Mulchumwe. She was so very shy, to begin with, but when I took her hand, she smiled and we immediately became friends. For the last year I have not been able to forget her, and I have longed to know if she was ok and what her story was.

This year, on a trip to Zambia I searched for Mulchumwe, but was not able to find her.  Before long I found out that she had moved to another community nearby called Kalende. Here, she was living with her Grandmother. I was also told that a feeding programme has not yet been established in Kalende and earlier in the year one of the children had died from malnutrition. Kalende is a beautiful, caring community. I knew that no child there would have died through being neglected. It challenged me, and made me realise just how many more orphans there are to still to reach.

It’s a huge task but we must not despair.  As Adam, one of the Hands at Work volunteers told me: “It is when we have no hope that we find real hope in God.”  We can help to reach them, just as God reaches us, one at a time. I have had the joy of seeing that happen, and the privilege of being just a small part of what God is doing through Hands at Work in Africa.

Hanging on…

July 31st, 2013 by Forge

It’s exactly a year ago that I walked the dusty tracks of Maposa. I have fond memories of  kids hanging off us, hanging off the car, hanging on to each other.

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But that’s just the surface story. When you spend time with our new friends and when you walk into their homes and meet their families, you soon discover underneath the joyous exterior many are just hanging on. They’re just about hanging on financially…earning a few kwacha here and there to buy a loaf of bread or trading a skill for a live chicken. They’re hanging on to the few family members they have remaining, all too aware of the reality that a mum or dad or grandmother will leave their world. They’re hanging on to the small fragment of hope that one day, maybe just one day soon, things will be better.

And that’s exactly why our commitment to Maposa is so important. Until Maposa can stand on their own, they need someone and something to hang on to. Not in a “we can save you” kind of way or a “we’re your solution to all your problems” attitude but in the way that says “here, take my hand and together we’ll do this”. In the same way the Psalmist says of God  “I cling to you, your right hand upholds me”. Psalm 63:8

And me….well i’m barely hanging on to their names, hanging on to their stories and hanging to the same hope that one day, maybe just one day soon, things will be better.

Becky Green

Just a little… (Sam)

July 29th, 2013 by Forge

9015476166_1ee1033118_zSome things never seem to change in Maposa, our partner community in Zambia.  The home-based carers still wander from house to house in the blistering sun.  The boys still love to play football on the dry ground and the girls continue to sit in the shade, braiding each other’s hair.

But if you can look just a little closer, things are vastly different from only a year ago.  Those home based carers, mostly grandmothers who feed and clothe many children already, have an added inch in their step, encouraged by the support of people they have never met, from thousands of miles away.

Those boys chasing a ball around are now able to play for longer, sustained by the good meal provided for them earlier that day, and the day before, and the day before that.

The girls, now more content, in the fact that they have a chance to learn in a school where they are loved, and to sleep in a home where they can feel safe.

I am encouraged by the fact that The Forge has been a part of that change.  Not just in Maposa, but in communities throughout the Copperbelt region of Zambia.  School buildings, water pumps, meals, and many more things bear witness to the time and money that has been sacrificed.

In the grand scheme of things it may seem very little, but to those few people it’s a lot.

On behalf of hundreds of people you may never have the chance to meet – Thank you.

Facing a new reality (Pete)

July 28th, 2013 by Forge

Since coming home from Zambia, I have tried and failed on numerous occasions to use my limited vocabulary to talk about our experiences. I feel frustrated that no matter who, or what I talk about, words do not explain quite how incredible this place and it’s people are. I’m finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that I’ll probably never be able to explain it in a way that does the people justice. As much as it is true, that I have a limited vocabulary, I believe it is also true that it wouldn’t matter if I were an incredibly talented wordsmith. These spectacular people really do have to be seen to be believed.

The images that we see on our TV screens, every time ‘Children In Need’ or ‘Comic Relief’ come around, depict a level of suffering and hardship that just seems so unlikely. Like it couldn’t possibly be real. But as much as I try to rationalize these things and pretend it is not that bad – it is. To come face to face with the most beautiful little girl you’ve ever seen and know that, statistically, she has more chance of being raped than she has of getting an education, cuts through your soul in a way you can’t possibly prepare yourself for. Let me tell you that seeing it first hand only makes it harder to believe.

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However, if I’m honest, the thing I felt most unprepared for was the faith of this small community (Maposa). How on earth could these same people who suffer such hardships and tragedies greet the morning sun with such joy? I went expecting to see people defined by grief, controlled by fear and despair. Please understand, I’m not saying they don’t suffer these emotions, but they are not defined by them. In Maposa we were not greeted with hearts of sadness. We were greeted with open arms and the widest smiles you’ve ever seen, with singing and dancing, with children who don’t care if you can do anything for them, but just want to spend time with you because they can.

These people have given me no choice but to reconsider what it really means to have much or to have little.

To see a small child willingly share the only hot meal she would receive for two days with another child who had nothing to eat tells you everything you need to know about the spirits of the people we met. I felt ashamed to stand and watch knowing that in less than a week I’d fly home to a place where too often sharing is considered an inconvenience or a hassle.

In Zambia they understand that God is not about religion. They don’t know the Jesus that is taught in religious churches in this country. They see the Jesus who cared enough about his friends to give his life to save them on the cross. They see the Jesus who cares more about the motives of the heart than the outward appearance of the hypocrite in his Sunday best. They see the Jesus of faithfulness, peace, love, kindness and humility, and because of this, they are defined by joy and peace in an area of the world where rightfully there should be none.

I went to Zambia in ignorance thinking that I could actually do something for these people. Instead I found that Maposa taught me more in 2 weeks than any of our countries most expensive learning institutions ever could.

Pete

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Away in a Hamper

November 26th, 2012 by food-bank

Risks and rewards (Lisa)

August 22nd, 2012 by Forge

Whenever Sam Walker asks me to do anything it either costs me my time or money – this time it was both…

Just a few weeks ago I was beginning to think I must be mad to take my two girls from the comfort and safety of our home to come with me on the Children’s Team to Zambia. However, on reflection, I know that the past two weeks has opened up their eyes to poverty that they didn’t realise existed. They have had the opportunity to witness people and communities who are so poor and vulnerable, yet still worship and serve God so lovingly and passionately. They have been able to see that even a simple act of kindness can make such a difference in a person life.

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Highs and lows (Doug)

August 22nd, 2012 by Forge

(adapted from Doug’s blog at www.beingenglishinafrica.blogspot.co.uk)

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As part of the de-brief we were invited to discuss our highs and lows. Seeing happy, smiley children (both our own and those from Maposa and Kalende) was an easy highlight. This was why we went – to give the kids a good week. In a perversely sad way we heard that they had had such a good time that they were all in tears in the minibus on the way back to their village. The week at Kachele farm was, for many of these young people, the first time they had slept in a bed with a mattress, sheets and blankets; having 3 good meals a day was also a welcome bonus. Coming away with a football shirt and a new pair of shoes also seemed pleasing, and there was no mistaking the joy of playing silly games. But when we asked the youngsters what they liked, they also mentioned, near the top of their list, the bible stories we had told. I think there is a mix, in this answer, of honesty and of trying to please. Both quite appealing attributes though the latter can be a bit frustrating at times.

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The journey

August 17th, 2012 by Forge

Today the team start their long journey.
Yesterday we said goodbye to the children and volunteers we have been working with, and in just a few hours we board a bus and leave. So, next stop lusaka, then Dubai, Heathrow and home at some point the next day.
But those 30 hours are only the first part of the journey in question. Let me explain…
Short-term mission trips, such as this one, are really a recent invention, made possible as our world becomes smaller with easier communication and faster travel. It’s difficult to quantify exactly what impact we have made here in Zambia in just two weeks, but if this is just a short-term thing then much is lost. This has to be a beginning for the members of the team. We must take what we have seen back home and allow it to change our lives. We must use this experience as a springboard to guide others in their praying and giving. We have to be a voice for those in Zambia. This is the real journey.

And in a few weeks time when much of this is clouded over with the consumerism and materialism of life in the UK, feel free to remind me of Pearson, or Reuben, or Sarah who we leave behind. For their sake, I cannot afford to waste what I have learnt here.

Sam

Good morning!

August 11th, 2012 by Forge

It’s 5.30 am on the last morning of our camp and the buses at due to collect the children around 9am. The children have already been up and about for over an hour. They are chatting outside my window and now I am wide awake. I took a walk outside just a few moments ago to give them a gentle sssshhh! but after the usual “good morning Sam” I realised what they were doing.

A group of the older girls, aged 12-15 had started stripping the beds in all of the chalets in which they have been staying and were hand washing the linen, without being asked to do so. I kept quiet.

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Priorities

August 6th, 2012 by Forge

I wake up. Slowly. It’s been a long couple of days and I know that I could probably sleep a few more hours if I had the chance. But not today. Today we visit Kalende, a community not too far away from the farm but one I have never been to before. The road there takes us through the property of the mining company and the stern looking lady at the gate looks at us strangely, probably wondering why we, 2 men, 3 women and 5 children from the UK would want to venture to such a place. It is not a gentle drive. The road is almost non-existent in places and we are glad when the school comes into view almost 30min later. After a quick greeting and prayer we split into groups and are paired with one of the community volunteers. We go with David, a teacher at the school and someone I have known for years. The first couple of homes we see are typical. Small clay buildings. A grandmother caring for 8 children. We spend a few minutes there but David wants to push on. His pace quickens. There is something he wants us to see before we leave. We traverse fields and woods and even cross a small stream. After what feels like forever we arrive in a small clearing. In the centre stands a circle of grass stalks, maybe 6 feet high and the same across, tied together badly with string. At one point there is almost what could be called a door, just a sheet hanging on string. Pearson, 9, his brother and grandma have been living here for several months. There is no roof. I can see through the gaps in the “walls” to the few objects that are inside.

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A small pile of maize bags lie at one side with a single sheet for the family to share at night. It’s a few minutes before I even start to take it in. My emotions are mixed. Anger. Pity. Confusion. Guilt. Suddenly that couple of hours extra in my nice warm bed seems extravagant. Along with much of the rest of my life…

Sam