The following is an e-postcard from Kai Iizuka, a GlobalGiving Representative in Zambia.
When I was told I was going to be meeting with a grandmother that Chikumbuso takes care of and had recently bought a new rocket stove for, I was expecting to meet a frail old lady spending her days within her house. Instead, I was presented with a hale, energetic, talkative woman who from the way she moved, you wouldn’t have thought she were a day over thirty. Esnart was her name, and I was able to hear her life story through Ms. Beauty, her Chikumbuso caretaker, who kindly acted as an interpreter.
Esnart was living alone due to the fact that she had lost her husband and outlived seven of her eight children, who had left her many grandchildren. However, she did not seem lonely at all, with her neighbors and others in the community constantly interacting with her and Beauty passing through to see how she was doing every morning. Though she used to make a living through piece work in order to feed her family, thanks to the monthly supplies she gets from Chikumbuso, a lot of that burden has been lifted and I was told that she now works as a successful marriage counselor with many clients.
The newly acquired rocket stove, she explained, was a lot more efficient than what she used to have as it is significantly easier to use, consumed less coal, and allowed for nshima to be cooked within thirty minutes. This is a great improvement over the coal brier that she used to use to cook with, which was slow and required a lot of expensive coal to use. While I was there, with help from two boys that had tagged along from Chikumbuso, she was able to quickly fix herself a meal using only two pieces of charcoal and a few sticks.
Fuel Efficient Stoves are the best way to go for our grandmothers in Lusaka, Zambia. If you can picture what buying a stove does for these elderly women you would not want to miss out on the opportunity. This winter in particular the grandmothers of Chikumbuso have reaped the benefit of having a fuel efficient stove. The winter season brings with it a chill to the bones of many people living in the slum where the cement walls guard the cold and the wind whips through the leaks in the ceiling. But for our grandmothers and their grandchildren the cold is no longer feared because these stoves work indoors as well as outside. Not only do these stoves cook meals using a few little twigs instead of buckets of charcoal but they also heat water and then stay warm enough to keep the house heated through the cooler evenings. Each and every one of our grandmothers who has a stove considers herself blessed to be a part of Chikumbuso where our supporters care to make a difference in the individual's life.
We are half way to our fundraising goal and we are thankful to those who have supported us to date.
Please help us to make our goal and give each and every grandmother a stove.
Can We Do It? Joyce thinks so!
Early in the morning of International Women’s Day, I was sleeping, I just wanted to sleep in. But then someone began knocking on my door, and I got up to answer it. I found there was this old, old lady. She was carrying this big sack on her back like a baby. I said, “Ah, Sylvia, what are you doing?”
“I’m coming from Mandevu.”
“What were you doing there? Visiting your relatives?” It was so early in the morning, I imagined that she must have left there very early to get to Ng’ombe at this time of the morning.
“No, no. I left early from my house this morning. I went to buy some groundnuts because I know that I am owing Chikumbuso some money. Now that my son’s funeral is over, I want to start selling so I can start paying again on my loan.” Sylvia, like many older Zambians, believes that if she is owing a debt on earth, she won’t be free to die. At 104, with all she has seen, you can imagine how this grips her.
“So,” I asked her, “how much do you have? Have you started selling by this time?”
“Yes! That is why I’ve come!”
I had her scoop out the groundnuts, bit by bit; she looked up at me in the eyes, “Is that enough?” “No, keep counting.” She counted until they were all out. The total price was 10.50 kwacha, with a profit of 1.5 (about $2.10 in total, profit about 30 cents). She was very pleased and grateful for the money and turned to go.
“No, no, Sylvia, you must stay and have breakfast with me. It’s International Women’s Day.” During breakfast we talked about her plans to earn some money for her loan and I shared the story with my children who would easily look down on working so early and so hard for such a meager profit.
After breakfast, she turned to go. “No, no, Sylvia, you must stay – I will get your clothes washed and pour you a nice bath.”
After we had washed the clothes and ironed them and she finished her bath, she turned to go. “No, no, Sylvia, the day isn’t over yet. You must stay for tea.”
By the time Sylvia went home she was very happy – she’d eaten three meals, sold all her groundnuts and her clothes were nicely ironed, folded and back on her back in the big sack wrapped with chitenge – these are clothes that she will sell to pay back her loan and now that they are clean and ironed, they will be much more likely to sell.
She was happy, but I found I was even more happy. Sylvia is a very old woman and her last child was just buried and yet, she was up very early in the morning, out and about, trying to make just a little profit to get herself going again. And not only that, all the time she was here, she was smiling, laughing, even giving us a small dance – I thought, “Would I have that courage going through all these problems? I kept thinking of her – what if she were my own umbuya (grandmother) and I wondered at her courage when she’s all alone.”
This grandmother represents all of the grandmothers we have and the struggles they go through on a daily basis. Consider blessing a grandmother with a stove, it will make a world of difference in her life.
It is a good thing there are grandmothers in Zambia and in the world today! Imagine life with out them. Who would take the orphans in with arms wide open just to see them cared for and in a home where they felt safe? The grandmothers sponsored at Chikumbuso are caring for many grandchildren left to them after the death of their own children. They do not have a lot to offer at times other than a safe place off the street and they always struggle to feed these children.
If you would like to give your grandmother a gift this year for Valentine’s Day be sure to consider giving her a rocket stove for a grandmother in need in Zambia.
Our grandmothers cannot say enough about how it has changed their lives.
The other day we visited Esnart, a grandmother with 7 grandchildren.
Esnart has one of our Rocket stoves and loves it. She says,
“ With my rocket stove I no longer need to buy charcoal which is so expensive and with this stove it takes me half the time to cook my meals. I try to cook three times a day so having the stove saves me both time and money. The sticks we use in the stove my grandchildren collect for me around the slum.”
Won’t you help another grandmother to have this blessing this Valentine’s Day?
Let us not forget our grandfathers. In Ng'ombe, Lusaka there are many old men who do not have work, homes, or people to care for them. One of these men is White. White became a part of Chikumbuso back in 2007 when we began working with grandmothers. He and his wife lived together in a very small home and were desperate for help. A few years later his wife died but there was no way we could abandon him for not being a "grandmother".
White is great, never complains and is always so happy to see us. Presently he is being kept by his daughter, but they are so poor he is obliged to go to the corner and beg with his hands out for money. White's daughter is a maid and does the best she can to bring money to the house but with 2 boys and grandchildren in school there is not much to go around. Help us, help this family.
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