More Village Visits
We, along with an OLSH Sister and one of the former Bakhita Village Care Givers, are continuing home visits to the girls who were in residence at Bakhita Village when it closed last December. We still care very deeply for these girls and want to help in any way we can as they try to adjust to their new living arrangements with their guardians. We especially want to give them the gift bag that was so lovingly assembled for them by a generous gift bag preparer in the USA.
There is often a shortage of food in the household where the girls are living, so we found a food warehouse store (think Costco) where we buy large quantities of food and household staples at a reasonable price. The food parcel that we take to each girls’ residence consists of a 10 kg bag of maize meal which is a corn-based grits type of food, rice, oil, sugar, flour, tea, various soap and toiletry items and whatever fresh fruits and vegetables we can find on that day. The food is piled in our kitchen and we put together the parcel as we go.
We’ve also discovered that at every house we visit there are other children in residence. So, we take a suitcase filled with items of clothing, shoes and toys for distribution to the other children. We’re feeling a bit like traveling sales people, but the system is working well so far.
So, now for a little update on visits.
Two sisters, who lived at Bakhita Village for many years, are now back in their home village living with a very old male relative who drinks heavily and is rarely in the home. The girls have very little food – there was an old pot of beans on a cooking ring on the floor – and almost no other food in the house. They’re sleeping on the concrete. The girls are not faring well and appeared to be quite unhappy.
We delivered their gifts and food and they smiled at their new dresses. We promised to return soon for another visit. The situation that these girls are living in currently is quite unacceptable. They are at the top of the Urgent Intervention List for the Bakhita Outreach program that we are developing with the Sisters.
While some of the visits to the Bakhita girls have been heartbreaking, other visits have left us believing that the girl is probably better off to be with her family – even if they don’t have running water or some of the material goods that Bakhita Village provided. If the house is stable, there is an adult present caring for the children, they are attending school, there is food in the house and the means to cook and refrigerate, it can be good for them to be part of a family and experience all the cultural heritage that goes with living in their home place.
One little girl, Blessing, went to live with her legal guardian, her granny who is blind. This is a case that is somewhere in the middle. She is living in a household with more kids than could be counted. It was unclear who lives there and who was just passing through.
At first glance, we United States “do-gooders” just want to get a firehose and start scrubbing, organizing and straightening out this chaotic and messy household. Fortunately, we have learned to keep our type A needs to ourselves, and for sure we know enough to listen to the local people who act as our navigators and interpreters.
After visiting with Blessing and her granny, we got back into the car and began to check the specific minimal markers for an acceptable living situation. And most of the columns received a yes. She is in school, there is an adult (or two or three) living in the home, there is some food and means for cooking. We asked our helpers and they said, “Well, it isn’t ideal, but it is home for her and she seems relatively happy.” Our team decided that they will keep in touch through occasional visits and help out when necessary.