To those who contribute (Molly) / by Claudia Bode

I have always considered myself lucky to be in a creative field.  I think it brings out what is best in people.  People want to create, want to contribute to building something with meaning.  I see this with our Kujenga team, our contributors, with the Olive Branch, and with the village we are working in.

We are building in Mswiswi, a small village town at the side of the highway, where the mountains of Mbeya stop rolling.  It’s a place through which people and dust pass on their way to and from the villagers further in the savannah.  

This week as I rode to the site with Godi on his motorbike to hire a couple of guys to clear the site for the new Peace Home, which we will begin to construct this week, he explained to me that the village of Mswiswi wanted to give the land to ‘our children.’  The village gave 2 acres of land to make sure that these kids grow up near their home, near a school.  Where many communities might abandon their children who don’t have parents, this place hasn’t, and if for no other reason, Mswiswi will leave an imprint on my heart.

Under the shade of mango trees the kids run around their current home like brothers and sisters anywhere.  Covered in dust, splashing in puddles amongst the ducks and chickens, they laugh and fight as siblings do.  From her laundry spot in the sun, Mama Edina scrubs their socks and sheets by hand.  Maybe she steps in, but more typically she lets them figure out how to make peace.  Mama Edina began taking in vulnerable and abandoned babies many years ago, and it’s because of her, and the support the Olive Branch provides, that these kids have a safe home to grow up in.  

These kids have tragic stories, any of which could be its own movie, its own book.  But they are not tragic, they are beautiful and the village sees this.  Their smiles wrap you in warmth and their hugs hold you tight, unable to move, happy to sit just a little longer, wondering how they so easily stole the rights to your lap, your phone and anything else that wasn’t attached.  Those kids are the biggest contributors.  They give the most, they make me feel more whole just by being there, by being one of the visitors they race out to greet at the sound of an approaching engine.