Sunday, January 27, 2008
Today I am joining the Zambians in saying this about all the rain: enough already! In what seems to be the rainiest January in memory, people are grumbling about the excessive amounts of rain that fall continually. In one cloudy day after another, one gully washer after another, life just slogs on amidst the mud. That roads don’t become absolutely impassable is a miracle. People put great faith in their vehicle’s ability to somehow make it through—or their own abilities to find a path or pull themselves out of a morass of mud, water, ruts, and holes if all else fails. These are very optimistic drivers.
But the rains do more than make roads impassable. They herald the birth of lots of mosquitoes, who in turn carry the threat of malaria. Striking 36 million every year, malaria is a fact of life here. We are fortunate: Our house is fitted with screens. We have nets over our beds. We carry an insect repellant with us. We take a malaria preventative regularly. We stay inside after dark, and if we do go out we have the luxury of driving. We have access to good healthcare and to expensive drugs for treatment. We are healthy, well-nourished, and have strong immune systems. We are privileged. But the rains bring the real threat of malaria to those for whom poverty is their daily companion. Although bed nets are an important part of malaria prevention, it is easy to see that the disease is really more complex than that. Its roots in the conditions of poverty are much more difficult to address. Perhaps it’s why we are so fascinated by the work going on at Kafakumba—the creation of jobs that lift people from the misery of poverty, the life-giving emphasis of raising aloe vera and Artemisia to strengthen weak immunities, the strengthening of community, the continuing search for a way to provide regular healthcare in the local village of Baluba.
These are my thoughts today as the rain continues to pour upon the tin roof. The din made holding church today impossible—the noise makes it too hard to hear. We have spent the day quietly-- reading, walking, preparing lunch. Tonight we will join others for a hymn-sing in the Enright living room. We will return to our cottage, tuck the mosquito net in tightly around us, and sleep well. I wish the same for the villagers of Baluba.