After living in Tanzania for many years, we now live in the UK and enjoy working with Amigos Worldwide and Bees Abroad as we continue to be passionate about seeing local churches transform their communities!

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Mourning into Joy on Mothering Sunday

It has been such a privilege being with groups of mothers while I've been away. In Tanzania now, it has been wonderful to catch up with the group of mamas I know best! I will tell you more about the Upendo wa Mama group (with albinism or children who have albinism) and what they have been up to soon! But now I want to tell you a bit about the amazing group of mamas I met for the first time this week on Kome Island ...

The Jikomboe Women of Nyamkolechiwa

The Jikomboe Women Beekeepers group is made up of over twenty women from the village of Nyamkolechiwa on Kome Island. Some of the mamas are there with their grown daughters carrying their grandchildren on their back. They are all farmers, working so hard to produce food from the land. They came together through the Emmanuel International Health Project started by Simon and Victoria Ewing a few years ago and formed a village savings and loans scheme. Recently, they asked if they could learn how to become beekeepers ... and so now they are! Emmanuel International and Bees Abroad are partnering to train and equip them, and Bhatendi and Justina are working with them to do this and so much more! They are such a lovely and very strong group of mamas ... and just so much fun! 

Some the group at their apiary

There was so much laughter throughout the day that I spent with them. Plans were upset by a long rain in the morning, but as soon as they could, they worked together to produce an amazing lunch for all of us, laughing all the while! They laughed and sang as they came together for a meeting, peals of laughter as they presented me with (and wrapped me up in) khangas. They laughed particularly hard as they all tried on beesuits for the first time! Some mamas were struggling and the creasing up didn't help matters! For women who wear flip flops and khangas, suits with headveils, gumboots and gloves are all very foreign and difficult to figure out! Women were literally rolling on the ground in laughter! And then when they looked at each other in this new apparell ... well it was absolutely hilarious! 

But for these mamas, life has not been easy or full of laughter. One mama, Nyabwire, shared her story of how as a child, she had to drop out of school due to constant illness. She entered a forced marriage at a very early age, but after the birth of her daughter, her husband died. Later she married again, but he also died before she bore another child. Her late husband's parents took everything from her, leaving her and her daughter grieving and destitute. With her daughter, Nyabwire moved to live with her brother, but then his house and everything in in burned to the ground. The sadness and grief she carried was so evident to Bhatendi and Justina, who are working with the group in so many ways. But to cut a long story very short, Bhatendi said she had never seen this woman laugh like she did on this day we shared this week. At the end of the day, she said to Bhatendi and Justina that she had never been so happy as she was this day. 

Another woman in the group is a grandmother, and is struggling to care for eighteen grandchildren in her care ... life is not easy, and she has been tired and burdened. But she stood to speak at the meeting  (in the local language of Kizinza, so it had to be translated into Swahili for those of us not from the village!), and her joy was in her smile! In coming together and learning together, they are finding joy! I shared Psalm 19 with them which was particularly appropriate with its' reference to honey! Sweeter than honey from the honeycomb is the word of the Lord ... and as it says in verse 8, it gives joy to the heart. And truly as these mothers ate together, laughed together, learned at the hive together, their deep joy despite circumstances and situations was so vividly evident! 

I know many are finding Mother's Day difficult. But I hope, like these beautiful mamas, we can all be encouraged to find this joy that is deep and meaningful, as we say "Happy" Mother's Day!

And if you would like to support these mamas (and a new group of Kome Island women we will be starting with next month) in some way, please get in touch with me. Your prayers and support for this project make such a difference to each mama!

Preparing lunch

Eating lunch together in the church

Washing the dishes