Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nonjabulo and Ubuntu

The Sunday before I left to come back to the States (11-29) I went to visit Thini and see Nonjabulo and her mom Nonhlanhla. I almost didn't recognize Nonjabulo when I walked in the door!  She was so adorable sitting propped up on the couch with a cute frilly little dress on.  (I know they dressed her up just for my visit.)  She is the sweetest little girl.  I picked her up and she fussed a bit so her mom (who was hanging up the wash when I arrived) came right in to quickly nurse her for just a bit and then Nonjabulo was ready to play and smile.  Praise God this child is doing so well.  I can't remember how much she weighs now, but her weight had come up considerably (for her) and she was actually feeling a bit heavy.  I say it again, Praise God!

The other purpose for my visit was to deliver some "specially formulated" sorghum porridge I purchased to try with some of the kids who are having trouble getting well or are very underweight.  100% of the daily vitamins and minerals have been added to this porridge so if there is a problem with obtaining proper nutrition, one serving of this should be all they need, though it isn't enough to fill their stomachs for the day.  This is advertised as tasting very similar to the sour porridge or store bought porridge that would normally be eaten.  Nonjabulo and her mom are two of my "test" cases. The feed back I received is that it is "very nice."  I looked at another replacement option that was developed in the US and while it is a cheaper alternative than this sorgum porridge, the people don't like the taste because it isn't anything similar to what the people are used to eating and therefore they won't eat it or they take out the soy bits and eat only the rice which defeats the purpose.

The problem is making sure they people who I've given it to eat a single serving every day and that they don't give it away to someone else in their family or community who is in need.  The first time I gave Thini 3 bags of this porridge, she gave one away to a child in her community who was very sick with HIV and TB and was severely underweight.  I tried to tell her that the porridge was special for Nonjabulo and her mom, but realized Thini's action is what makes her Thini. This type of behavior is known as Ubuntu.  Ubuntu is the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality - Ubuntu - you are known for your generosity.  Ubuntu and love describe Thini.  So while I can't be sure this porridge will actually benefit Nonjabulo and her mom, I have to have faith that it will.  This is just one more situation where I have to let go and Let God handle it.

The other problem with feeding people in this way is that once you start, you have to continue feeding them.  I'm not sure if I will continue with this project when I return from the States. It's expensive and hard to manage with individual families and it isn't feasible to prepare and serve to an entire school.  I wanted to give it a try and see the affect on the three families I've given it to.  Generally speaking, giving people food is not the right answer.  I just felt I had to try something because malnutrition is such an issue.  The Swazi's eat a lot of maize - in sour porridge in the morning, at noon time a thicker version with a few sugar beans in a sauce over the maize, and then again in the evening.  Malnutrition is more of a result of what they eat rather than whether or not they get enough to eat each day.  A diet of mainly maize no matter how much they eat will result in malnutrition unless they can add a lot more protein and other vitamins and minerals.  I'm praying for guidance and wisdom in this matter.  

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