We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Woman Reversing but Mamas Moving Forward

The road was getting increasingly worse. I was getting increasingly nervous. The road was getting narrower, bumpier, full of holes and boulders and then it was getting steeper. It was Tuesday last week and less than an hour earlier, I had picked up our good friend, Ester and we were looking for Mama Penina who was supposed to be near the Anglican church. But after waiting for 20 minutes and failed attempts at phoning her, there was still no sign of her. Ester hopped out of the vehicle to ask around in the small duka (shops) if anyone knew Mama Penina and where she lived. A man did. He hopped in the back to direct us. This is when things started getting interesting! He kept assuring me that yes, it was a road and Penina's house was "very close." I doubted both. When we rounded a tight corner with a steep bank up on one side and an eroded drop-off on the other, to see a hill of boulders going up in front of us, I stopped the car. "We will walk from here." Our guide had certainly never driven a car and seemed to think a Land Cruiser could climb anything his feet could. I just left the vehicle, forcing out all thought of how I was going to reverse out of the mess we were in later on!

Things went increasingly better then. Ester and I thanked our guide and  continued up the steep rocks on foot, passed through a narrow alley between some houses built into the rock, crossed gingerly over a makeshift "bridge" of two logs and arrived at Mama Penina's house. She warmly welcomed us in and we met two of her lovely daughters. The youngest, Maria, the lively and hilariously funny six-year old pictured below, has albinism, and this is the reason Ester and I were visiting. 

Maria with Mama Penina
Maria poses for the camera!
Penina is a lovely Christian lady, a local primary school teacher and a mother of a child with albinism. She knows all too well the pain that such a mama carries. The pain of seeing your own child rejected by family and local villagers. Attacked and in some cases, killed. The pain of being considered a curse and a "problem" simply for giving birth to such a child. The pain of rejection and abuse by husband, family and village. The pain of seeing your husband killed as he tries to defend your child. The pain of being unable to provide enough to survive. The pain of the fear of being hunted down and found. Penina and five other mamas who in different ways bear this pain started meeting together, trying to support themselves and each other. But it was difficult and Ester, who knows these women through the work she has done with Under the Same Sun, to help their children by placing them in safety with grants for an education, asked if I could help. I know I can't help, but I do know Someone who can!

So Ester, Penina and I talked about meeting together, all the mamas and I. Every other Saturday. Reading the Bible together; finding the One who knows, understands and cares. And doing a project together; making something beautiful together, and hopefully eventually making a profit!

At the end of our planning and praying (encouraged and excited), Ester and I made our way back down to the Land Cruiser. Then it all came flooding back ... we somehow had to get out of here! I walked beyond the vehicle to check the holes and bends and in particular the drop by the eroded side of the road. A crowd gathered and with many adults and children watching or attempting to guide me, I managed to reverse back the way we had come. I scraped through the bush at one point in my nervous attempt to avoid falling over the edge where the road was eroded. All pretty sweaty stuff! But then, with what must have been 20-point turn in 4-wheel drive, I got us turned back around and we were on our way!

Now it's getting late, so more on the Mamas group (we all met together for the first time on Saturday) will have to wait for another post!

One of the mamas in the group is Jane ... you may remember her story told a few months ago here.


  1. Replies
    1. Well, you did teach me how to go backwards :)

  2. What a powerful reason for a supportive small group like this to come into being! Praying for grace and safe driving conditions every other Saturday (the image of a 20 point turn made Meg and I both giggle)

    1. Thanks, Sumners! Actually, we have arranged to meet at a much more accessible school (Phew!!) ... I wasn't giggling :)


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