A couple days ago, Jennifer went with Mama Peggy to pick up a bunch of food and supplies: mince, corn maize meal, tea, powdered milk, cooking oil, toilet paper and soap were some of the items.
Yesterday, Connor and I sorted all of that stuff into ten bags: food in one bag, supplies in another. Each food/supply pair made one parcel. Five parcels in all.
This morning, we drove around the township to deliver those five parcels to five different homes.
It began with Bongani:
This is Bongani a couple months ago. Quite the stud. That picture dates late 2010-2011. Things change.
Bongani’s mum had HIV, and passed on, as they say in Africa. So he now lives with his grandmother–a strong-jawed, red-eyed little woman. Determined and beautiful. Bongani is the smiliest kid, sweet in every mannerism. And his favorite thing is playing football (soccer). He’s 14 now. But as an HIV-positive kid, he looks barely 8.
We only got to see Bongani because he hasn’t been able to go to school for a while. He has had strokes–the 14-year-old child has had strokes–because of the HIV. These strokes have left him in a wheelchair… for now. Patricia, who runs the hospice, was with us, daring him to be walking around next week. He just smiled and said ok. And before we left, we all circled up around the table of food and supplies. Patricia lead us in an African hymn and we began to pray. I held onto his tiny hand so tightly. and as his hand curled around mine, I just knew that I would never completely leave that grasp; that some bit of me paused, separated and wrapped itself around that moment.
It began with Bongani. But that was my Africa moment. Everything is different from here on out.