Maines Ngoma is the widow in this picture. She is the mother of Christine Khosi, one of our widows that passed away back in August 2010. Maines lives on the corner of the street that comes into Chikumbuso.
A couple of weeks ago, Gertrude told me Maines had come to Chikumbuso. “You see me,” she said, falling on her knees, “I’m starving. Isn’t there something Chikumbuso can do for me. Look, my grandchildren - they are wasting!”
“We have to talk to you about Christine Khosi’s mother,” Gertrude opened. “She is coming and coming here, asking us to help. She has been doing very poorly since Christine died."
Maureen chimed in, “Yes, every day I wish I could build a fly-over to walk past her house. Every day, every day, she sees me, and she comes out to ask me if we can do something for her. She even knows that I try to pass her house without her seeing me. Now, she is telling me she knows I’m avoiding her. What can we do? We have to do something.”
Maureen had one bag of roller meal left from sponsorship handouts. Every child except one had shown up to collect their monthly food distribution. Maureen had made sure that all the children knew they were to come and pick up their food by a certain date; that child did not come and here was Maines, starving and begging. We sent her home with a bag of roller meal, of course.
When I arrived home that day, I received an email from a couple wanting to sponsor a child and a grandmother. Coincidence? I don’t think so. When all our hearts were united in prayer for her deliverance, suddenly our prayers were answered. Suddenly, someone thought, “I’d like to sponsor a grandmother with Chikumbuso so I’m going to send an email right now.” That is nothing short of miraculous as far as I am concerned.
I think that Maines considers it nothing short of miraculous, too. We went to her house first thing to tell her the good news. “I have nothing for you to sit down on, but we must at least get out of the sun,” she said to Gertrude, motioning us into some shade. Squatting under the eve of the house Gertrude began to tell her that her prayers had been answered - she had a sponsor through Chikumbuso. We gave her a chitenge. Gertrude explained that she would now be receiving food, candles, etc. every month. She seemed overwhelmed. I asked her questions about her children - she has two children still living and four of her five grandchildren live with her. She’s lived in Lusaka so long all she remembers about coming there is that it was during the colonial times. She has no idea how old she is. I asked her if she voted in the recent elections. She replied, “I’m too old for politics now. My vote is for Jesus.”
When we rose to leave, the reality that she really had a sponsor sunk in. Tears flowed as she shook our hands, kissing us and hugging us, and crying and blessing her new sponsor, “Now I have a new daughter to take care of me since Christine has passed.”
What is a miracle, anyway? CS Lewis, in his book, Miracles, writes about that which is Super-natural. Nature would have predicted a slow demise for Maines. The breadwinner dying, naturally should have led to her orphaned grandchildren being offed to other family members and her own slow, hungry death. Instead, something Super-natural has happened. Someone wholly unconnected with Maines has now become a new daughter to replace the one that was lost. I think it qualifies as a miracle.