So often it’s the person with the courage to call into a radio show right in the middle of a deep struggle who provides the gift of inspiration to us all. A story Theresa recently shared with us about a cooperative member was, for me, a gift like that.
“Even before his wife died,” Theresa said as she began the story, “he was very involved with his children.” As in many cultures, in Kantolomba it’s not a given that fathers take an active role in their children’s lives.
“You would see his littles ones run right over to him as soon as they came onto the property, wanting to tell him all about their day, receive a big hug, hold his hand for a while,” Theresa said.
About a year ago, this cooperative member lost his wife. (As is very common in Kantolomba, her cause of death remains unknown.) Theresa said the man, who is HIV positive, is not well. “The doctor says his CD4 count is fine and the (antiretroviral) drugs are doing what they are meant to do, but nonetheless, he is not physically well,” she said. “We think he is depressed. It seems he has not accepted that his wife is really gone. The team is gathering around him and giving him support right now.”
And, “He is still not drinking,” Theresa added.
One of the things I was acutely aware of when I first spent time in Kantolomba was the pervasive use of alcohol. Cheap, home-brewed, corn liquor is readily available. Extrapolating from my own intense challenges with simply being human, I was pretty convinced that faced with having no prospects for supporting my family, watching family and friends of all ages die at an alarming rate, and always being hungry and my children always being hungry, I would find myself struggling not to turn to cheap liquor.
And so it has been for this cooperative member over the years—a struggle with alcohol. But he is not drinking!
“He took it seriously,” Theresa explained, “when the doctor told him that if he kept drinking while taking the medications he must take to save his life, he would die. He does not want his children to be left.”
Having just launched Let’s Tie Our Chitenge, our current campaign to support the project, it occurred to me that this story was a perfect example of rolling up one's sleeves and meeting a challenge.
“Talk about tying your chitenge!” I exclaimed.
“Yes!” Theresa agreed wholeheartedly. “He has really tied his chitenge!”
And now the team is tying their chitenge in rallying around him to give their support.
Find out more about how you can join us to “tie your chitenge” in support of our amazing family in Kantolomba.