No, not cannibals. This is not that kind of story.
So if not cannibals, then what? Sand fleas!
Walking back from a neighbours house on Sunday morning, we were told of a short cut to our house and took it. We thought nothing of it, but certainly did think how great it was that we’d found a shorter route home. We won’t be making that mistake again. Although neither of us felt anything at all, or saw anything at all, walking through the tall grass at early morning just meant that we were ripe for the taking and have been bitten nearly 100 times. The section of grass we walked through didn’t take us longer than 30 seconds, but thats all it took to have our feet, ankles and lower legs looking like the face of a pubescent teenage boy. At first we thought it was just a mosquito bite or two, but every minute another lump would raise its ugly head and before we knew it, our feet were just itchy masses of flesh that were no use to anyone! With there also being a power cut all day and night, we were unable (until today) to use the power of google to find out exactly what it was so didn’t know how to treat it. Luckily, we are not too far from a pharmacy and this afternoon got some treatment that has calmed them down for a bit. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been great news for getting work done on the orphanage today.
Nicole had such a severe reaction to the bites that she couldn’t sleep even a wink all night and spent most of it sat in the dark with her feet in a bucket of cold water to try to take some of the sensation away. Although I was scratching and seem to have even more bites, mine were not so bad at night and I was able to sleep relatively well and still went off to finish the painting today. I needed something to take my mind off of the bites too, as as soon as I finished the 3rd room of the day, I started to realise quite how bad my feet really were. Unfortunately this meant that I finished up an hour or so earlier than I normally would and headed home to get Nicole and to take us both to the doctors.
Its not life threatening or anything, but we were initially concerned that they may be mosquito bites and with us being in malaria territory, there is always that fear that it could have been much worse.
Even with it being a cut short day, both the boys and the girls bedrooms have been finished in regards to painting. The girls (and the youngest boys) share the same room and started unpacking everything to put it all back in its place. After our day at the market, they have a ton more stuff than they did the day before and I can see a real need to get everyone in the house some sort of storage, be it a stackable box or a set of draws of some sort. We’ll be using donations to get them something in the coming days.
One major development today, though, was finally having the new gas cooker installed. As you may remember if you’ve been following us since the start, the children were using damp fire wood to cook on a makeshift open fire in the corner of the kitchen as they had nothing else. A temporary fix of a 2 hob table top gas cooker (with one hob broken) was then brought in, but today they finally got a full 4 hobs AND oven to work with. I was expecting to just have the house mother be excited about this new development but when I was showing her how it all worked, the entire house came in to see it for themselves. They seemed amazed that you could have a fire to cook on, without a match and within seconds. The gasps of wonderment at how it could work were a particular highlight today and I caught at least 2 of the older children taking it in turns to light a hob to watch it go!
One disappointing thing today, however, was that despite promises, the children are still without running water. I was assured that it would be rectified today, and I can only hope that it happened after I left a bit earlier than usual. I’ll find out as soon as I can, but until then, to give you an idea of what having no water looks like, this is one of the boys having his daily wash in the garden from a bucket. No child should have to do this. Think about him next time you moan that your brother/sister/flatmate/partner has used up all the hot water. If you want to help him have a real shower each day instead of this, please donate here.
Thank you for all your continued support. Your donations have made all of this happen. Tomorrow I’ll be heading into Harare (the capital city) to buy foam and pvc material to make bespoke mattresses for the bunk beds and more steel to make the next batch. Materials like this are much cheaper there compared to locally, although we’ll use locally skilled workmen to make and assemble the finished beds. Going to Harare means that we won’t get chance to deliver the first bed until Wednesday now. So watch this space for how that one goes down!
Nicole, after a night & day trying not to rip her own feet off meant not being able to leave the house, will go back to Great Hood Academy School again for the first time in a while to spend more time with the children there and go through the arrangements for us to give a presentation to the children about us, where we come from and what we are doing here in Zimbabwe. Hopefully it will result in us being able to really hit home to all the children that there are others that have even less than they do and that charity is something that we should all be involved in if given the opportunity.
Please keep your donations coming in, it all goes directly to help these amazing children and even a tenner can make all the difference. Todays shopping to feed 17 of them for one meal cost only $6. So see if you can find that in loose change in your pocket and donate that perhaps…