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Mama Didas and her 17-year-old son who is disabled

by Amy Carter

During this trip I have spent many frustrating minutes trying to learn pieces of Swahili.

Our driver named Jonathan taught me, "Tafadhali naomba kupiga picha," – May I please take your picture – and this is the phrase that kept me awake from 4am to 6am on Monday morning.

"Jambo," or "hello," is pretty easy, but I have a difficult time remembering "Habari ghani," which means "How are you doing?" (Although judging by the competency of my fellow tour participants, I am alone in my deficiency.)

However, what I realized today is that all I have really needed to learn is the Swahili word for "beautiful."

Sister Alexandra, a nun we met in the city of Moshi who is responsible for 199 families receiving pigs, radiates peace. Mama Didas, the mother of a 17-year-old boy who cannot speak or get out of bed, is strong as she cares for her disabled son.

"All of her other children left her," Ansila, a neighbor, told me. "So she suffers alone."

They are beautiful.

Sixty-five-year-old Joseph Lui Massawe cares for his three grandchildren whose parents died of AIDS. His immaculately constructed goat pen illustrates the pride he must feel for his animal, his land, himself, and his family.

His wise face is beautiful.

Bernadina Michael is a 56-year-old widow who lost her husband to AIDS and now lives with the illness. She has a family of five children and showed us her goat pen with a smile, beaming even more brightly when we asked her daughter, who has completed a secondary education, what she wants to do for an occupation. "I want to go into tourism," she said, shy but happy.

There is tragedy, but there is also hope. There is beauty.

Amy Carter is a research and communications specialist at Heifer International. She recently completed a study tour of Heifer projects in Tanzania. You can read the previous posts of her travelogue here.


Casey Neese