After school today (Friday 1/30), Baba Benji (Fr. Benji) game over to our house and asked if Katie and I wanted to help deliver food parcels. We said yes, quickly gathered our things and jumped into the car with him. Benji delivers these parcels each Friday down in another valley (forgive me for not being able to pronounce or spell it). We first drove through very desperate areas and down a series of killer hills. We arrived at the home of three of his parisioners from this valley. Each week these 3 young, Zulu girls help him to deliver the parcels of food to families that are extremely poor.
Just when I think nothing else will shock me here...something does. Today was a very moving, humbling experience. We were basically off-roading into rural places and we'd pull up to meager shacks or mud huts which are home to numerous family members. Along the way, we dodged lots of cattle and goats! At one such place, Benji told us he knew of at least 12 family members living inside. He explained to us that these people can't get anything or really work anywhere because they have no transportation to get around. They live too far out for efficient taxi access and that would be their only option. Also, they are the poorest of the poor and would not be able to pay for the taxi fare either.
At each home, one of the Zulu girls would grab a bag and hop out. Most of the time, a young boy or girl was waiting to receive the parcel. She would give it to them along with a couple of pieces of candy then we would hop back in and be on our merry way. The children were much of the time sickly looking and most lacked clothing. At one of the stops, I saw a young boy (maybe 10?) sitting on a rock on the side of the road. He was waiting for the food. I waved and he waved back with a huge smile. He got the food and I began looking for his home. I realized that it was so far out of the way, it was not able to be seen at all. He walked slowly down a path through tall grass and through trees dangling the small bag that sustains his family.
Each family or family member looked happy and relieved in a way to receive the food. To any of us, the food was very basic or insufficient. These families receive a plastic shopping bag which ends up being maybe 1/2 way full and contained a bag of beans, a bag of rice and a couple other items. Imagine feeding those 12 people on that food parcel? Not easy...probably impossible! However, the food serves as hope and as a reminder that someone cares for these destitute families. The people here are so welcoming and happy most of the time. One of the men let us (Katie and I) tour his traditional Zulu hut today. He was a very nice man named Sydney. I am so grateful that I got to go to deliver the parcels today. I will absolutely be going again really soon! Check out these pictures:
#1: Fr. Benji, Katie, two of the Zulu girls and Me on top of a cliff overlooking Inanda Dam. The youngest girl Mata loved my camera and wanted to take the pictures.
#2: The young boy I spoke of whose home was not visible from the road. Notice the bag in his hand.
#3: Mata giving candy to one of the babies at the home we visited.
#4: Me with the three sisters!
#5: One of the homes...laundry and all.
#6: This is probably my favorite picture so far. These two little boys did not receive a parcel, but we passed them on a rural road. They were just by themselves playing. We pulled up and they were very confused...then Mata gave them some candy. They were just adorable.
#7: A picture from the side view mirror of the children at one of the homes. The poor little guy in the yellow tank top had multiple, open sores all around his face.