One of my facilitators and I did 3 more home visits today for Lulu project. We've been pretty slow about getting them done and, considering we start our bi-weekly meetings this Saturday, I guess my goal of seeing everyone before then won't happen. Oh well, things happen in their own time so I know it'll all get done eventually.
I love visiting people's houses, though. It's a great opportunity to really understand the way of living here. And Tanzanians see guests as a blessing, so people are always really nice and welcoming when I stop by, even if just for a minute. I admit that I'm not very good at doing that unless prompted, so it's good for me to be pushed a little into doing it.
One of the participants that we visited today, a 20 year old girl, just had a baby this week. I knew that she was pregnant but I didn't put two and two together that that's whose house we were going to until we got there. We were brought into their living room/bedroom and told to have a seat. There was a bed on one end of the small room and a chair on the other. It wasn't until I sat down on the chair next to the bed that I realized someone was sleeping in it! I was a little surprised, but not completely because I know that space is limited in a lot of homes and people want visitors even when someone is sick. So I've been in similar situations before, but it's still a surprise to see someone moving around before my eyes have adjusted to the dark room. After we exchanged greetings with the family we realized that the "sick person" in the bed was actually the Lulu participant and laying next to her swaddled in a bunch of fabric was her teeny, tiny little daughter.
The new mother eventually sat up and participated in conversation with us and I was able to take this picture of her and her baby.
I don't yet know very much about this girls' story but I understand that the baby's father will most likely not be in the picture to contribute financially to raising the little one. Unfortunately, that's the story of so many women here. The good news is that much like in many other parts of the world, families in Tanzania are large and everyone helps out, so she lives in a home with her extended family who have created what looks to me to be a loving home for her and her baby. Unfortunately, the family income is quite low (the guardian sells rice in town) and with little schooling, girls like this one will have a hard time getting ahead for her and her daughter.
Lulu project will teach this girl and other participants about how to care for themselves and their children's health. Information about clean food, water and sanitation; diseases; bacterias; etc. will help them to stay healthy. Small business skills such as how to plan a business that covers their expenses, how to research the market to get profitable ideas, and how to budget and save money will help her to take care of her family's needs and hopefully help them to achieve a stable life. Finally, life skills such as self esteem, cooperation, healthy relationships and family planning will help her to navigate the difficult world that she and her daughter live in so that she knows that she is of value and is making a valuable contribution to society.
Since today is Giving Tuesday*, please consider making a donation to our work through Maryknoll Lay Missioners or to the organization as a whole, which places missioners in Africa, Asia and Latin America to work alongside the worlds' poor and needy.
In the meantime, I can't wait to hold this young woman's baby girl again next Saturday, because I have no doubt she'll bring her along to our first meeting!
*Or, you can consider donating any time of the year. I'm not limiting this to just today. ;)