Monday, March 26, 2012

Charity Home in Kigera

Yesterday we had the opportunity to visit a village called Kigera where a Maryknoll priest, Mike Bassano, works. Fr. Mike assists at the House of Compassion, which is a home for people with physical and mental disabilities as well as orphaned children. This home only serves those people who are destitute or otherwise abandoned by all family. It's quite a unique type of place in this country, as families are the main caregivers of the sick. People come from all over Tanzania to live here.

The charity home from afar

Words cannot describe the experience of visiting this place. For sure, it's a really tough place to live. Mike offhandedly mentioned that the water pipes had been broken and they'd been without water all week*. There is little privacy because all 70+ people (plus chickens, ducks, cats) share a compound. It's dusty and hot and the accommodations are spartan, at best. And the stories of how people ended up here are heart-wrenching.

Fr. Mike gives us a tour of the dispensary onsite
Fr. Mike gives a tour of the compound and the dispensary, which is open to residents of the home as well as people from the surrounding remote village.

But at the same time, it's a beautiful place with smiling faces and a lively spirit. There are few places I've been where I can say I actually "felt" the presence of God, but this was surely one of them. Fr. Mike exudes such a lively spirit, flitting around, picking up kids, kissing them on the cheeks, making rapid-fire jokes in Swahili. The residents play music all day so the courtyard is filled with the sounds of song. And people sit or mill about the courtyard, sometimes singing, sometimes dancing, sometimes chatting with friends. The kids are passed around from resident to resident, everyone taking a hand at helping one another.

It was such an amazing experience!

This was a common scene. Many of the kids here are abandoned, so they don't get a lot of affection or attention. They immediately came running to hold hands/be picked up.
The kids don't get much affection because many of them are without parents, so we took turns carrying or holding hands with the kids.

Chris holding a 12 year old (!) boy.
They think this boy is 12 or 13 years old. He doesn't speak.

The windmill that pumps water from Lake Victoria to the home
A windmill pumps water from Lake Victoria to the compound.

David shows a resident his camer. This guy LOVED to take pictures.
David shows a man, named "Baba Yo" (because those are the only words he can say), how to work his camera. Baba Yo LOVED taking pictures and took any opportunity to do so. He wasn't too bad either! In the background Caitlin and I tickle a little girl.

A FAB member talks to a woman who is crippled and blind.
One of our guests from America talks to a resident. This woman is blind and crippled. She crawls on the floor to get anywhere.

The people were trilled that we had come out to visit them. Visitors in Tanzania are considered a blessing, and certainly there are few visitors that come out to the Charity Home. But, honestly, I feel like I was the one who received the blessings yesterday. Any difficulties that I may encounter in life vastly pales in comparison to anything these folks have experienced. And yet, they see the blessings in their life and are grateful.

It was truly an amazing day.

Our fellow MKLMers wrote a blog post about the day too and posted some pictures. Feel free to visit their site to read about their thoughts on the visit.

*It's quite common for people to cut pipes to either steal water or the pipe itself.


Anonymous said...

Wow, how incredible. I remember when I went to Ghana and visited both the orphanages and the social service agencies that worked with disabled people. Both had been cast aside by so many people and were hurting inside and out. It is nice to know that places and people like this exist to truly be present with people, treat them as humans, and help there and around the world. It reminds me of one of my favorite Bible verses and old gospel songs: "The spirit of the Lord is upon me. Because He has annoited me. To preach good news to the poor. He has set me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind. To set at liberty those who are oppressed and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." -Kaiser

Anonymous said...

This is so awesome! Thank you for your service and for sharing this with us.
-Jordan H