Open Arms

africakids.jpg Today we had another fantastic day here in East Africa. We spent the day at our first distribution for one of the new parishes for the Carpenter's Kids. The village we visited was called Mzologe, and they are not yet linked back to a parish in New York. It was the first time that the children of this community received their school clothes, shoes, and mosquito nets.

Once again the community welcomed us with open arms, and we were greeted by virtually the whole community. Today's trek took us a couple of hours deep into the interior land along the Rift Valley. Upon arrival, we again were greeted by joyous song and dance. Everyone wanted to shake our hands and we happily took the time to meet each one. Young and old, the village excitedly swept us up into their music and dancing.

We later took a tour of the community including a giant windmill just outside of the boundaries. Unfortunately, it was a sad symbol of a government program in failure. The complete machinery was still almost entirely in place, but the long rods that extended down to the well below were broken. What had at one point brought water to the village, sadly lay broken and in disrepair, casting a sad shadow on the tiny country village.

africa2.jpg The people of Mzologe, however, are a resiliant and happy folk, who though living in poverty with failed corn crops all around, manage to stay buoyant and thankful, often rejoicing in the Lord. We had a lovely lunch and spent rest of the day making friends. The guardians of the newly indoctrinated Carpenter's Kids openly embraced us, some with tears streaming down their faces, grateful that someone cared enough to look out for their children.

On the long and dusty trip home, we marveled at the beauty of the plains and were astounded to see a giant cobra, in the middl of the road, rear its head and flare dramatically at our land cruiser. We were stunned and laugh, grateful to see such a display from the inside of our car.

We have now returned to our hotel to swap stories of another incredible day.

To learn more about the Carpenter Kids organization, click here.


Seale "Brother" Ballenger is a twenty year veteran of the book publishing industry and currently works as the senior publicity director for Harper Entertainment and William Morrow at Harper Collins Publishers. He is the author of HELL'S BELLES: A Tribute to the Spitfires, Bad Seeds, and Steel Magnolias of the New & Old South.  Seale, his partner Chris, and their two French bulldogs, Maddie and Petey, live in New York City.