Sunday, June 20, 2010

A girl named Marie............

I hesitated momentarily to write this post but decided to go ahead anyway.  This amazing trip to view places I never expected to see in my lifetime was full of joy and happiness.  Many special happenings remain in my memory.  I still climb into bed each night and relive each exciting moment.....the awesome game drives to view the wildlife, sleeping under thatch and canvas in plush 'tents', delicious food, and the very special people who work hard to share the wonders of the African bush with those of us who are fortunate to go 'on safari'.  I also treasure the time with dear friends on the journey to these amazing countries.


Me with Marie
Photo by Paula

The visit to the village was very different and the memory of it is still playing with my emotions big time!  The experience of viewing this culture up front and personal, getting to meet not only adults but many of the 300 children, being shown their homes, learning just a smidgen about their daily lives involving school, farming, health care (often lack of), loss of lives to AIDS and malaria, was an eye opener!  Protecting their village from unwelcome visitors such as elephants by growing chili peppers (later sold to Tabasco as a cash crop) around their vegetable patches, recent addition of water being available from taps in the village (but still no electricity), and the opening of a small clinic whereas before it was a long walk into Livingstone for health care, has helped the village. BUT................


....................just a couple of hours later that same day, sitting on the deck of the very elegant Royal Livingstone Hotel, mindful of the Zambezi slowly sliding by like crinkled silver tinfoil, we joined wealthy tourists as they watched the sun set over the mighty Victoria Falls, all of us raising glasses to living the good life.........


..................and I thought about the village just a short distance off.  It struck me that most of those people had perhaps never done this..........never had the chance to experience one of the seven natural wonders of the world right on their doorstep!  As the water hurtled over the falls, and the spray blushed pink and mauve in the quickly receding sunlight, I felt a huge sadness.

It is sad and it hurts knowing those children, like their parents, still may not visit here to watch the sunset.  Education is limited, jobs are scarce, the average life expectancy is 37 years.  The future is not very promising with the AIDS situation still a huge issue in many African countries.


The village receives some support from two local safari lodges on the banks of the Zambezi, one being Toka Leya where we stayed.  They help with funding projects to improve the facilities along with donations from guests, focusing assistance on health, sanitation, education and income generation........and particularly on the needs of the women and children.


Marie, and several of the children, walked around their village with us, holding our hands and asking questions about where we lived.  Some asked to touch our hair saying how soft it was, and they wanted to see themselves in the photos we took.  Marie told me she had five siblings and that her daddy died last year.  Marie is twelve, close in age to my granddaughter Jasmin.  Perhaps Marie, like Jasmin, has just finished grade 7 but she will no longer be able to attend school. One cannot compare their lives..........the difference is wider than Victoria Falls.  I think about Marie every day, her smiling face is imprinted on my brain and I pray for her future. 

Note: We four gals are packing boxes to send to this village by way of Toka Leya camp...........just a little expression of caring and help, but we hope the contents will be useful to the children. 

21 comments:

  1. Mary,Very touching, and thanks for sharing this part of the trip.
    As I read about your stop in the village I too wondered how that would feel, contrasted to the beauty and experiences you'd just had.
    Heart rendering for sure.
    Your trip tales are just remarkable.
    Please let us know if you hear from the recipients of your gifts to them!

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  2. That sunset is amazing. The story about the children is very touching. I'm sure it will stay with you forever.
    Nancy

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  3. That must have been so hard, to see the huge life style differences, and to realise that not everyone cares about it. What a lovely idea to send boxes to them, well done.

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  4. Hi Mary,
    I've enjoyed reading all your posts about your trip to Africa. They are all so fascinating. This one though touched me. I always struggle with the differences between how people live and the resort we happen to be staying in. Two different worlds. I'm glad you got to meet the people and children in the village. My niece spent a semester where you are teaching the children in the village. It was a real eye opener for her. She is a student at Gonzaga University, and they partner with a priest in Africa allowing students to study there and volunteer.

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  5. Your delight in adventure and ability to travel and experience such amazing wonders of the world are indeed a huge contrast to the life of the locals. We are truly fortunate and we need to be mindful and grateful at all times. You are a super dear to think of Marie and others and to send boxes of goodies to them. Sharing and caring is what makes you special. Please keep us posted on your amazing trip. I shall keep Marie and her village in my prayers.

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  6. Thank you for your wonderful African pictures, but most especially this post. As I sit here with tears in my eyes, I'm glad you wrote so personally about this part of Africa and how it has affected you. Making positive changes starts one donation box at a time. We have such collective wealth and energy to share - and many opportunities and organizations to allow us to do so. I hope your posts serves to spur many more of us into action. Hugs, Cathy

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  7. The photos of the sunset are amazing, but then seeing the children and the women with such hardship in their lives, that is truly sad. It should make all of us realize quite a few things about ourselves and others.
    I for one say that was a good post, and I'm sure that Marie and the others felt that all of you are caring people.
    Take Care,
    Ulrike

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  8. Mary, what stunning photographs! I started reading your post and had to read it again, what a wonderful post, so heartfelt. I can't even imagine seeing those children, you are an incredible woman with such a caring spirit.

    I am so happy I found your blog.

    Nancy

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  9. This post is such an important one, Mary. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this. We can all help, can't we?

    xo
    Claudia

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  10. Oh, Mary. Thank you for the reminder to everyone of the children who live in places such as this. Our prayers should always include them. The contrast of the village and the hotel serves as a reminder of how fortunate we are and how many people are in need in this world. May we never forget that fact. God Bless! Carla

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  11. Thank you, Mary. Is there anything I can contribute? I'll be home from Roanoke on Wednesday. Please let me know.

    xoxo
    Deborah

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  12. Mary,
    I have enjoyed every single post you have made about your wonderful trip. I am sure it must be hard what to choose to post and write about, but you are doing a fantastic job...I feel like I have been there with you. Thanks for all your sharing.

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  13. It hurts when such needs are surrounded by such beauty.....

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  14. Even in our troubled days, we are so incredibly blessed. We must continue to share our blessings and try to make life better for others.

    Thank you, dear Mary.

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  15. My first, but not last, visit to your blog. I love your photos - especially those of the children. How lucky you are to have had this opportunity

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  16. The children would certainly touch my heart also. Thanks for your caring.

    The sight on the waterfalls is spectacular. I would only wish the children could see this beauty from such a special place.

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  17. Mary, I have finally caught up on all your Africa posts, and I thank you for such an up close and personal view of your beautiful trip. And now the sensitivity of this last post -- thank you for your caring heart, as well. We all do what little bit we can do to "divvy up" the abundance in which we live!

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  18. I had the same experience in India. Such poverty but the people seemed happy.

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  19. Mary, I have tears in my eyes just reading these words. We take so much for granted in our daily lives.

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  20. This didn't come as such a surprise to me as it perhaps has to some people, my son and his wife help regularly at a clinic near White River in Mpumalanga and I've seen for myself the shanty towns where many of the African people live. The children are a delight though, always happy and full of smiles. I have some lovely photos of my granddaughter playing with them, she goes to the clinic too and loves her visits.

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