Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A Heart For Learning

A Heart for Learning

I have so enjoyed my afternoons with the women’s group here at Kafakumba. We are a new, small group of five or six who meet three afternoons a week under the leadership of Terese Kilembo. Three of the women are young—the oldest being 29—one in her thirties, and two of us in our fifties. A nice range of ages. An amiable group. The three young women carry babies on their backs to each session: Elizabeth has Rose, Precious has Maxwell, and Pricilla has Grace. Each of the babies seems to be about 3-4 months old, still constantly carried or nursed as is the custom here.

One afternoon is dedicated to learning English, or reviewing it since English is taught in schools but not its proficiency. The women share a lesson, then carefully write down the sentences and instructions in their worn little notebooks for study at home. They also have taught me many Bemba words, laughed at my pronunciation, and appreciated my attempt at learning a song in their language. They are much better at the language lessons than me.

Other days are dedicated to learning handcrafts. First there was sewing, beginning with making a handkerchief to practice basting and hemming stitches. Quickly they moved on to sewing fabric dolls and dresses. Their backstitches were so even and small one could almost imagine they were machine sewn. Now the lessons center on crocheting and they are quickly mastering the slip, chain, and triple stitches of what we used to call “granny squares.” Each will make a multi-colored baby blanket for their little one, sharing the quiet afternoons in the company of women and the common concerns for family.
I am simply amazed at the dexterity of these women’s hands and the quickness of their minds. They do really good work. One instructor made this comment: “They have a heart for learning.” Indeed. Their creativity, simple humanity, and friendship will remain my treasured memories.

No comments: