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

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Kneading and Waiting with Mamas of Children with Albinism

On Saturday I was with some hard-pressed lovely mamas of children with albinism. We were all shocked and deeply saddened by the recent murder of  little Yohanna with albinism. The previous day, 18-month old Yohanna's broken body had been buried beside the graves of his older brother and sister (also with albinism). He was buried in a deep grave built with bricks and mortar, iron rods and corrugated iron to prevent his grave later being robbed. His mother Ester still lies in serious condition in hospital in Mwanza, after desperately attempting to protect her baby from the five attackers who broke into their home with machetes. His other siblings (ages 3 and 12), also with albinism, are being protected, but their fear and grief is unimaginable.

I have written before about the evils of witchcraft. The horrifically numerous incidences of killings of people with albinism in Tanzania are the horrible and gruesome evidence of such evil. Every one of Yohanna's limbs was severed from his body, taken by his killers to sell for huge sums of money. Witch doctors will pay as much as $75,000 for a "full set" of albino body parts from which to make their charms and spells to bring good luck and wealth.

It has been suggested that the killings and tortures of people with albinism are linked somehow to politicians (using witchcraft practices to secure power or foretell the future), given the fact that killings increase around election years. Tanzania elections will be held in October of this year. Fear is rising as Yohanna is the second child this month to be taken. There has still been no sign of 4-year old Pendo.

The word is getting out around the world on the atrocities happening here. And it needs to. Please share! Many are working to put pressure on the government to act. On March 2nd people are gathering in Dar es Salaam to protest the killings, the lack of action and the lack of prosecution of those responsible; to plead on behalf of people with albinism and pray for victims. Please pray!

Also complicating and worsening the situation, is that now there is an increase in vigilante justice, as people take matters into their own hands. Witch hunts are leading to the killings of innocent women accused of being witches. Last month, a 58 year old woman, Jane Bakiri in Tabora was attacked at night in her home by many villagers with machetes and knives and then burned alive. Older women, particularly those with red eyes (caused by the smoke over years of cooking on a three stone fire) are at risk from angry or frightened villagers seeking their own form of perceived justice. Tragic and unjust.

The mamas and I that met together on Saturday all knew the dangers, the feelings of helplessness amid such wickedness and corruption; they knew first-hand the fear. Mama Penina talked about the instant worry if she has a moment wondering where her little Maria is playing. I cannot imagine. None of Mama Wilison's five children have albinism, but she has it herself. She has grown up and lived with the danger. Yet they are so brave. Both Mama Penina and Mama Faith shared from Psalm 140; they have little confidence in their government, but every confidence in their heavenly Father.

That day we kneaded bread. We kneaded hard. They have been asking for some weeks now to learn how to use a small jiko (fuel-efficient clay stove) to bake bread. And so we did. And we talked. With my stumbling, inadequate Swahili, we talked about their children. We talked about our broken world and talked about a God who created us and loves us and clothes our nakedness. We talked about a good God who has a saving plan that started with another broken body. And we prayed.

We drank chai. And we broke the bread and ate together.
Shaping the bread dough

Eating bread and drinking chai
Mama Faith enjoys the bread and chai
Kneading and waiting. These two things are key in the process. Kneading to get the right consistency, to make the bread strong and prevent collapse later on. Hard pressed. Waiting. Waiting for the yeast to do its job and leaven the dough and make it grow.

And we do pray for this country and its government, that the leaven of the Kingdom would do its work. Even where governments fail, a little leaven will go a long way.

Working with the bread, seeing a product good and strong come out of a time of kneading and waiting, was a good reminder in the middle of a time of hard pressing and waiting. Not just for these mamas. Also for our guard Thaddeus who three days ago asked us to pray for his two boys. They are away at boarding school and the other night, Thaddeus received a call to say that both had run away and no one knew where they were. There is still no sign of them although police and family are searching.

Also for Tim's Dad and our whole family. We talked with Tim's parents yesterday, receiving the news that Dad's surgery to remove the brain tumour is set for March 10th. All felt that it would be best for Tim to be there. Suddenly the waiting from afar leapt into a blur of action as we changed Tim's tickets and tried to make fast plans for Tim to leave here on Wednesday next week in order to be with his Dad. So sad that we cannot all go together, particularly at such a "kneading" time, the girls and I plan to stay the rest of the month to finish things well here and pack up before our 4 months away. It's strange how things that seemed so important before, are suddenly not.

And so in the kneading and the waiting we remember we all have the opportunity to grow stronger. And we remember that it was through brokenness that we have wholeness.

Bread in process

1 comment:

  1. Such pain and suffering for these dear mamas and their children. May the Lord continue to strengthen you in this ministry which is so vital yet costly to you too. We have been praying for dear Esther. Much love


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