Thursday, November 8, 2018

Ndola, House of Mwaiseni


It is 4:30pm here, 6:30am in Los Angeles and it has been A LONG Productive DAY! Malela or, Christian- people think he is not one but three different people, let me explain…kaka means “brother” in Swahili and, Christian Mbuta Malela is kaka’s full name. So Malela arrived late last night, he had too many difficulties crossing both the DRC and the Zambian border. Surprise surprise! First they asked him for his “new” passport, then a yellow-fever card, then they took the only chitenge (he was bringing for a gift) and said he was going to sell it in Zambia, so they must confiscate. JUST to cross from the DRC to Zambia, Malela had to pay: $5 for taxes, $10 for a 'Go' pass, $25 more to the DGM (director general migration), $50 for his Zambian Visa (then another $30 because it was his very FIRST visa!????), oh and because he didn't have a yellow fever card, another $50. This however is not the crazy part- the absolutely INSANE part about all of this is, last night at 10:30pm (local time) I received an email from the embassy of the DRC granting me my visa...yes, they said: You have been granted your visa, please overnight your passport so that we may process your visa accordingly. Ummmmmmmm, WHAT? Malela and I literally were so taken aback (and completely MAD- especially based on all he had to go through to cross over here to Zambia). So clearly, it is not meant to be because there is no way to overnight anything from where we are right now. Ha! Ugh. Sigh.
Then comes the sad news from California, about the shooter- 12 dead. What is happening in our world? I am constantly reminded of how fortunate I am living where I live which, wasn't a choice- but nonetheless. I am reminded of Love and Freedom, of the governmental safety nets that are in place in the United States to prevent us from falling down too deep...I constantly remind myself to feel grateful and humble for what I have and not stress on what I do not. For being able to provide for my children what I can and not on what could be but isn't. To be in a place so desperate 

Often times I am criticized by fellow Americans for not dong good work in America, and 'why not help 'our' people first'. What those fail to ask or care to know is that I have. I have dedicated multiple holidays downtown on Skid-row, produced events to raise money and facilitated toy drives for kids that are less fortunate. I have spent not hours but dedicated entire semesters at UCLA volunteering my time as a translator to primary  ESL students and it felt great. Helping others always feels great. However, after visiting these refugee and IDP camps both here in Zambia and the DRC, things changed for me.

The children I met walking around with nothing but scraps of clothing, make-shift toys made out of pieces of discarded 'trash' I couldn't help but wonder.  And maybe it was just that- my wonderment that encouraged me to take a step further, a closer look into what a refugee was, is and how one ends up 'like this'. 

Of course this curiosity led to making friends, wonderful dear friends that I cannot even begin to brag about. Friends turned into long lasting decade long friendships that we have been able to so fortunately maintain over the years. And all because of what? The 'wonderment' or 'curiosity' of helping others.

Ok- I have been so inundated with writing and visiting with Papa Isaac and Malela; sharing stories of the field, of our past 10+ years of working IN the field and here we are! It's now late- I'm going on a 12 hour day and musttttt put the computer to sleep (myself as well). I'll finish my story tomorrow at some point.

Lala salama.
 ................... pics of my little monsters face-timing with kaka, then dinner I prepared (veggie curry) and a (horrible pic of me) and Papa Isaac!...........................

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