A few weeks ago we were alerted by a close friend to a disturbing situation that was taking place around 20km from where we were staying. We were shocked when we visited Gogo Lobusika and saw how she was living. We found her house (if you can call it that) literally falling apart and on the verge of collapse. Most of the mud and stones that would have provided some warmth and protection from the elements had all been but washed away by the years of wind and rain. One could only imagine how Gogo has survived all this time. Her rickety bed had no mattress whatsoever – she slept directly on top of a few pieces of clothing that she placed on top of the old, rusty and broken bed base. She told us that snakes and lizards and all manner of bugs and creepy crawlies would frequent her house.
This is no way for any woman in her 60’s to live!
Add to this – she apparently has a 22 year old mentally challenged son (we haven’t yet met him and no one is certain as to what is the extent of his “mentally challenged” state as he has been out looking for work and has not been home for some time).
We made a few enquiries and got in touch with the local Red Cross in Siteki who said they had an emergency plastic tent which we could borrow. Gogo was over the moon when we showed up with a small contingency of volunteers (local community boys) to help clear some land and erect her temporary dwelling.
We were also able a few days later to gift her with a mattress and some food which included some chicken. She was overjoyed as she had been living mainly on mealie meal (corn) for so long. The chicken meal was a much welcomed change.
A week later we visited Gogo again and asked what her greatest needs were. This can seem obvious to us but sometimes what they need might be something we are unaware of – it is always important to consult the people we work alongside with. As expected, Gogo identified housing as her most pressing need. When we told her that we would love to build her a permanent two room brick house complete with windows and build her a pit latrine at the end of her land… well… I guess this picture should give some insight into how she was feeling…
For Gogo Lobusika today was an unexpected (but a very welcomed) day!