AFRICA Day 6:: Work Day in Matara

This morning, we went to Matara one last time for this trip.  It was a work day.  We spent the morning in 3 teams… planting indigenous trees in their tree nursery, planting cabbage, and making fireless cookers.

However, I must start with Iribuka.  Iribuka was the first baby born on the Batwa land in Matara last August.  Her name means, “God remembers.”  This is in stark comparison to two years ago when we learned the tribe leader’s name was, “No Name,” because he was not worthy of a name and he would probably not live very long anyways.  Mark Shook told him that God has not forgotten them and neither will he.  (Which started our relationship with the Batwa!)  They acknowledge that this land is from God and that God has indeed REMEMBERED them!  Here she is, 9 months later, Iribuka.

One group helped plant trees in the tree nursery.  We planted indigenous trees that would help their topsoil, help not to disturb rain patterns, etc.  Our group worked hand-in-hand with the Batwa.  “Little Claude,” their agricultural specialist, had a wonderful idea to use banana tree tusks from their own land to use as the bases to plant the trees in.  Previously, they have always had to use plastic bags which were not sturdy or good for their land.  Talk about resourceful!!Another group worked with some of the Batwa women learning how to make fireless cookers: insulated baskets that would continue to cook something due to residual heat.  Kelley got this idea from a missionary in Kenya who achieved tremendous success.  They offer many benefits – such as cutting fire time down from about 4-5 hours to about 30 minutes, providing more time for other work to be accomplished, minimizing the use of firewood and charcoal, and providing more safety for the children (less fire).  Our women and the Batwa women learned together how to make the baskets, then the Batwa women will teach the other Batwa women.When the children came home from school, we played all kinds of games and activities with them.  It was amazing to feel the connection with no need for interpreters.  We needed no language – just our presence and smiles and love.
I love their resourcefulness – see their soccer ball…

Derek played goalie in the soccer game – and right after this kick, the ball went past the OTHER goalie and probably all the way down the hill to the water source!!  They thought that was amazing!Jana taught the children how to play duck, duck, goose – however, they do not know these animals, so with the help of a translator, they played “Goat, Goat, Cow.”  They loved it!!Meanwhile, Samantha finally got to hold a baby!  The mother wrapped her baby behind Sam’s back like the other mothers.  This is how they work, play and live life with their baby.Each group member brought a stack of coloring books and a few boxes of crayons.  We ripped pages out and distributed crayons.  The Batwa had never seen this before.  They loved it!  Little ones AND big ones!  The moms and dads were creating some lovely pieces of art!  Not surprising considering that they live in the middle of God’s creation.  They truly understand the use of color.Marilyn was so excited to teach the children how to give a thumbs up and yell, “WAZZ UP?!?!?”  And the children got a kick out of our enjoyment!After a few heart-felt words from our group and the Batwa, of course, we danced.  Joy and love filled the air.Group shot… our group and most of the Batwa Matara village.

This morning, Kelley led us in a Bible study of Micah 6: “This is what the Lord requires from you: to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”  We talked about what justice looks like – or should look like – in Houston and in Burundi.  Kelley then prayed for God to give us an imagination of justice flowing like a river and pouring like a waterfall – and to be creative with ways BOTH justice and righteousness.  Each of these things are definitely being lived out here in Burundi.  We still have a long way to go, but each of us have learned so much about God’s calling for us to do justice.

We will miss our Batwa friends when we return home, however, we are so thankful for them and for our time with them.  We are bringing back pictures, videos and memories to help us tell their story.  After all, IRIBUKA.


Sherry Naron - June 14, 2010 - 1:29 pm

Thank you Ellen for sharing your gift with us!

Christie Lacy - June 14, 2010 - 2:25 pm

beautiful in so many ways!

lezlie armour - June 14, 2010 - 3:04 pm

Looks like another wonderful day!

Jeneen Olive - June 14, 2010 - 3:35 pm

Ellen I’ve looked forward to your blog all week. Its been so uplifting to see the work you are capturing with your lens! And how great would it be for the US to adopt the practice of carrying our babies with us everywhere we go! I’d sign up for Jaxon to come to work with me any day!

Jared Kincer - June 14, 2010 - 4:42 pm

Goat Goat Cow Sounds like fun and it looks like everyone is having a great time.

Laura Shook - June 14, 2010 - 5:14 pm

I am in tears… Thank you!
What a beautiful picture of Sydneyann!! And I love the one of the two pair of hands working together!! And the baby feet coming around Samantha!! Love it!!
My heart is full!

Teri - June 14, 2010 - 6:07 pm

Love all of this! Tears of joy as I remember the people and their beautiful faces!

keri kondracki - June 14, 2010 - 10:14 pm

Beautiful! God’s work and God’s people…

Lynette Adam - June 15, 2010 - 10:32 pm

More amazing everytime you post something new. Love all the pictures. They truly tell the story as well does your blog. See you soon.

Marybeth Bracksieck - June 16, 2010 - 9:28 pm

samantha and the baby is amazing :)

Krista - June 17, 2010 - 1:37 pm

So happy to see all the smiles. Ellen, you captured such beautiful images. Thanks for sharing with us!

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