Saturday, 11 July 2009

A Sobering Home Visit

The little girl next door has just asked me when my birthday was because she wanted to give me a present(!) I said Septober the 32nd and she went away happy. Oh, such deviousness!

Today I went to visit the home of one of our workshop ladies, a single woman in her thirties with two young children. Her husband had been killed two years ago in a road accident after drinking. Theirs was a "Love Marriage", not an arranged marriage, and neither set of parents approved or had helped them set up home which must have put a big pressure on them. After his death she was blamed for turning him to alcohol, the consequence of which was that she had no support from the husband's family nor from parts of the community, and had found it impossible to get a job until SISP had intervened. I met her, one of her daughters, two of her brothers and her mother, all of whom lived at the old mother's house.

younger daughterThe daughter was charming. A sparky four year old with a cheeky grin, she was very endearing. But I had forgotten the reason I wouldn't meet the second, older daughter - she was in a Children's Home/Orphanage because Mum couldn't afford to keep her at home. Of the whole household, Mum was the only one with regular employment and I know what her salary is - a pittance. I can't begin to imagine how painful it must be for this woman to send her six year old daughter to the home, twenty kilometres away, only getting to see her once every few weeks.
The house they all live in is brick with a palm leaf thatched roof. The two brothers and their mother occupy the two rooms and porch of the house. The woman and daughter live in the outhouse which is basically an insecure extended outside toilet - brick built with an asbestolux roof. The roof had collapsed in recent rains but had been repaired. It was just big enough for a bed and a wardrobe. In the house we sat at a small table on two plastic chairs, on the edge of a bed and on the bare floor. There were hardly enough cups and plates to go round. They get water from a well but it's not really fit for drinking because they're close to the sea and consequently the water is salty.

Lunch was delicious (rice, grilled fish, shrimp and squid, all locally caught and fresh) and we went for a walk later. You can imagine how I felt afterwards - the feeling of what can I do to help? Probably nothing. But wouldn't it be fantastic if some money could be found to build a proper extension to the house and bring the other daughter home?

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