Thursday, March 30

home for two weeks

We have been home from Kufunda for 15 days now.

The dichotomy of living in a culture that has so much material wealth and displays such little respect for life - earth, air, fire and water versus having just experienced a culture that has minimal material wealth but a spirit for celebrating what they do have - is working on me.

Sitting here on a cliff overlooking a huge and beautiful, ever-changing ocean vista I go back to Zimbabwe for a while...

Visiting the small village of Zcimba, in the Mugabe home district, was full of so many emotions, shocks and joys.

We arrived as the sun was setting under a blanket of grey cloud, but the welcome was like sunshine lighting up the whole village. Their flag of welcome to the Kufunda village that said everything about how much they appreciated the help they had been given by the Kufundees. But they expressed it with their whole bodies. The high pitched lelelelelelelelele from the woman as they sang, danced, embraced us all, and opened their homes and hearts to us. I felt so happy to be there, yet somehow
inadequate in my response.

The evening began with a circle gathering in the pre-school building, which had big dollops of the absurdities of some of our western help. After some food we gathered again to pass the talking piece and share a little about who we were. The Zcimba community organisers spoke near the end and made reference to some of the work they had done and achievements since the Kufundee's last visit.
They had helped their local community to build 123 compost toilets over the 2005 year, and this was a celebration.

A moment of silence followed, after everyone had spoken. Then a voice! A song had begun and others joined, then the women - the community organisers were up.

Picture these strong, passionate, energetic woman of every age (though the elders seem to have the biggest numbers). They are dancing like the heavens had opened and showered them with every imaginable gift - their gratitude was palpable. And their lyrics told of the strength of these spirited women.

We had been shown our rooms, and as the dancing and singing came to a natural end we wandered back to our places of rest - beds which had been surrendered for the night, a hammock tent for the hardy, or the back of the van for some others.

As we came together for breakfast I felt some humility, at realising how much I have in terms of the access to good food, a comfortable bed, a shelter that doesn't leak, electricity to run my computer and give me light, ease of travel, and so on and on. I was very grateful for the porridge they went out of their way to bring us - as an alternative to the hard Maize meal, that is their staple.

Then we were shown around some of the neighboring villages, to see and celebrate their composting toilets. These toilets seemed such a sign to me, that unlike us in the west with our fecal fear, and deep reluctance to take care of our own ----, they are making the re-connections between human beings and nature.

They are working with and responding to the obvious link between soil and food. I sense they are seeing that we have to participate in and preserve nature, and not be only on the take, if we are to feed ourselves. We must become an active part of the cycle.

Back at the school grounds, it soon became clear, there was a party going on! It began slowly and sustained for a long time, before the kids came on and gave us a show of energy and happiness that left us all smiling till it hurt.

I feel part of a culture in which like many others, I am so often, so self-concerned. I wonder. Where this ability comes from? The ability to live on the edge, not knowing if, a failure of their health (and inability to get help), their neighbours stealing their food, their elected representatives, a failure of the crops, the weather, or the next financial crunch, is going to bring them more hardship. And in the midst of this to be able to dance and sing and express love and gratitude. Where does this come from?

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