"Sometimes I would like to ask God, why He allows poverty, famine, and injustice in the world when He could do something about it... but I'm afraid He might ask me the same question." Anonymous

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Worthless, NOT!

Lent 2011: Worthless Story
SHARE: By Mandie Sodoma, Seattle Pacific University

This first week of Lent, we will be taking a deeper look at the issues of poverty and lack of economic opportunity by following the story of Sylvie Ngandwe and her three children. For the Ngandwe family, life is harsh. Their days drag on around menial tasks that they are forced to complete to survive until life almost seems “worthless.”

Here is their story.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: By Alain Masela Mwaku

The quarry of Kipushi is dusty and noisy. Families dig four to five meters deep in order to find gravel layers, then go through the sieve process to get good quality rocks to sell. Aaron Ngandwe, 11, is working in a quarry of gravel with her young sister Marguerite Ngandwe, 9 years old. The dream of these fatherless children is to be happy with life, like other children.

But their sickly mother Sylvie Ngandwe, 38, cannot afford to provide for them as she has no livelihood other than sifting for rocks. "I’m doing this hard job of little worth with my children, seeking to get our daily bread because of lack of available food," bemoans Sylvie. “After my husband's death two years ago, I was sick in my bed three days, home drinking water without food. My children had to work in the quarry for others to get food and I joined them after my recovery."

“Nobody assisted me. First needs, especially food were a big issue. My children did not go to school because of the high fees,” she says.

“Here under the shiny sun, we are digging gravel, which will be sold if a truck comes to buy it. I have to help my mother, putting our common effort together so that we can have a quantity for us to buy food and soap,” states Aaron.

“The job is really hard for me to handpick gravel in the sand as my duty. I would love to stay home and play with my friends. I feel pity to see my mother working herself,” declares Marguerite.

After sifting through a little heap of gravel, Sylvie can earn about two thousand Congo Franc (US$2.20) per day if a buyer comes. She has to fight hard for daily food and to cover a monthly cost of 8000 CF (US$9.00) to rent a house and US$15.00 to pay school fees for Aaron and Marguerite.

“I encourage my children to go to school. But when they sack them for [not paying] school fees, we spend time together here in the quarry,” says Sylvie.

“We start the job earlier in the morning if I do not go to school and we stop at 4pm,” says Aaron. “We suffer coughs and rheumatism regularly because of dust here. We use to take traditional medicines against the illness and dull night pains after the job. We do not have choice.”

The risk for children and their parents in the quarry includes mudslides. “I have scars on my body due to mudslide accidents," Aaron says. The crowd of women and children who meet in the quarry admit that the mudslides killed women and children a couple of years ago. “Working here is for us to get food and avoid our children wandering the town,” they declare.

Sylvie also has to work in the quarry with her last daughter Songa Songa, 3, who has a cold. “I bring her with me here because nobody can keep her at home.”

Sylvie is seeking business capital to sustain her family livelihood instead of the quarry. “As a widow, I dream to buy fish and resell in the market so that I can generate a profit. I’m seeking capital to start this and completely abandon my current job. Indeed, my children will stay home and I would be able to feed them and pay school fees for them. However, I lack money to start,” reiterates Sylvie. “I can also farm crops and potatoes if I get seeds and fertilizers," she adds.

Sylvie’s children are registered to Mwanga primary school but cannot afford school fees, though their mother has provided uniforms and school supplies.

Sylvie would also like to buy blankets for her children as it is cold at night, but her income doesn't allow for it.

The children live a hard life yet have high hopes. “My dream is to become a doctor,” says Aaron. "I will be a dressmaker," says Marguerite. The family eats once a day after the quarry jobs. Marguerite’s wish, however, is to eat twice a day.

Sylvie and her two oldest children work all day sifting through rocks in a quarry. They barely earn enough money for one simple meal each day and to cover the monthly rent. Along with that, the two older children are unable to attend school and gain an education. Their lives are not worthless; but being trapped in such circumstances can make a person question the point of existence. To step into Sylvie’s life and experience a lack of “worth” this week, we will be going without something physical.

• Eat only $14 worth of food this week. Some simple meals would include rice, vegetables, and beans.
• Live simply. Don’t use things or luxuries that are unnecessary for your daily activities such as shampoo, pillows or socks. Don’t buy new things or spend money eating out this week.
• Pick a day to fast (or a specific meal each day). During your normal meal times, reflect upon this issue of poverty and hunger. Pray for families like Sylvie’s around the world.

These are merely suggestions. If you have ideas of what might work better for you or would like to approach the experience in a different way, go for it! Feel free to get creative. (Share your ideas on our Facebook page) And join us this week as we seek God and give up some physical worth to better understand this story.

- Mandie Sodoma is a junior at Seattle Pacific University in the Global Development Studies program. She is involved with World Vision ACT:S National Leadership Council and has an interest in the use of photography and written media as a form of creative activism.

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Adoption Time-line

02/02/10- Ethiopia adoption application & fee sent.

02/17/10- Accepted into America Worlds Ethiopia Program!

02/20/10- Paid initial AWAA program fee.

Start paper chase...

03/02/10- Ordered our birth certificates.

03/02/10- Spoke w/and chose GLAD as Home-Study Agency.

03/03/10- Got Angi's employeement & life ins. verification.

03/04/10- Received Tim's birth cert. in mail.

03/04/10- Went to courthouse, got Marriage Cert.

03/05/10- Received Angi's birth cert. in mail.

03/05/10- Scheduled Tim's phys. letter doctor appt.for 3/8

03/08/10- Mailed GLAD application letter & fee.

03/10/10- Ethiopia made big change- 2 trips required now.

03/11/10- Rec'd GLAD/AWAA Post Placement Agreement.

03/11/10- Rec'd Tim's Health/Life Ins. letter.

03/12/10- Jack & Annie rabie shots/Home Study Requirment

03/13/10- Rosie & Sara rabie shots.

03/21/10- Began Hague on-line required training course.

03/22/10- GLAD beginning our background checks.

03/22/10- Our HIV tests and Tim's HEP B blood draw done.

03/23/10- Tim's TB Test scheduled for 3/30/10.

03/25/10- Notary notarized all paperwork we've collected.

03/26/10- Kyla, our social work came for 1st & 2nd home visi

03/26/10- Adoption Tax Credit raised to$13,100.00! Go God!

03/27/10- Kyla finished 3rd Home Study visit.

03/27/10- Finished family photo pages.

03/30/10- Tim rescheduled TB Test until 4/6/10.

03/31/10- Picked up Tim's HEP B test results.

04/02/10- Received Archie's referance letter.

04/06/10- Tim had TB test placed.

04/06/10- Angi got bloodwork records.

04/06/10- Re-did Financial Statement/faxed to AWAA.

04/09/10- Tim's TB test results- negative :)

04/10/10- Completed Hague On-line training course.

04/10/10- Dog vaccines done.

04/20/10- Faxed Florida CPS request to FL today.

05/03/10- Had our physical visits today.

05/26/10- Angi's bloodwork drawn.

05/28/10- Angi's bloodwork result- normal.

05/28/10- Tim's bloodwork drawn & normal result.

06/01/10- Our 14th Annivesary- Renee notarized physicals!

06/07/10- Picked up our physicals & faxed to GLAD/AWAA.

06/07/10- Found out GLAD rec'd FL CPS checks 6/4/10.

06/07/10- Requested Dr. letter for Angi.

06/10/10- Picked up & faxed Dr. letter to AWAA.

06/10/10- Waiting for AWAA to approve Home Study.

06/15/10- AWAA read Home Study & requested corrections.

06/23/10- GLAD corrected and sent H.S. back to AWAA.

06/24/10- AWAA approved our Home Study!

07/01/10- Got money order for final GLAD payment.

07/01/10- Met Klya/GLAD in Vincennes, got final HomeStdy

07/02/10- Mailed I-600A application & fee.

07/09/10- Renee notarized rest of Dossier paperwork.

07/09/10- Sent 2 papers to IN State Dept.for Authentication

07/12/10- Fed-Ex package received at IN State Dept.

07/13/10- We rec'd Authenticated papers in mail!

07/14/10- Rec'd Immigration Fingerprinting appt for 8/9/10

07/23/10- Went early-Immigration/Indy. for fingerprinting.

07/26/10- Called USCIS & left msg for Immigration Officer.

07/29/10- Officer Opfer called, USCIS back-logged 3 weeks.

08/05/10- Rec'd I-171H today!Thanks Officer Opfer-speedy

08/06/10- Renee notarized new MOWA letter & I-171H.

08/06/10- Got Cashier's check to go with Dossier.

Paper chase completed!

08/06/10- Shipped Dossier to AWAA by Fed-Ex.

08/10/10- AWAA received Dossier packet.

08/13/10- AWAA approved Dossier, maybe DTE next Fri?

08/13/10- Rec'd U.S.State letter stating I-600A sent to ET!

08/19/10- AWAA Fed-Ex'd our Dossier to Ethiopia!

08/25/10- Dossier arrived in Ethiopia today!

The WAIT begins...