We have a good-sized garden, largely planted with sukuma (greens) which are a staple here along with ugali. Trouble is, we mzungus don’t eat that much of it and as a result, many of our neighbors have been invited to come and pick greens at will. And they do. But the plot has become rather neglected and overgrown, frankly, because the daily labor of wash, food preparation, schooling, and such is quite enough to fill my hours. I haven’t made the garden a priority.
But yesterday it came to my attention that the condition of our little shamba (farm) is bordering on shameful, and folks are talking. So, today I sent Isaiah out with the slasher to cut the overgrowth along our back fence, Rebekah stepped up to do laundry while Jonah cultivated around our various fruit trees and Deborah and I grabbed some hoes and weeded in the garden. I decided that two rows would suffice for today, and then we’d call it quits and move on to school.
Lo and behold, as we finished our second row (surprisingly, a good two hours’ work), my neighbor–one who regularly comes to pick our greens—sauntered over and grabbed Deborah’s hoe. So I kept on working a third row alongside of her. Not more than ten minutes had passed when a large group of teenaged girls came by and began loitering along our fence. Apparently the sight of a mzungu hoeing is amusing. Well, Christine let them have it and, after a barrage of Bukusu (the local tribal dialect), most of the girls came into the yard. Several took over the hoes we had, a few started toward the back yard with the wheelbarrow full of weeds, and the rest headed for the swing set. It seemed they traded off play for labor amongst themselves and Christine made an excellent overseer. I finished up the “hard laundry” that Bekah couldn’t manage to scrub, and then went in to clean the kitchen floor (which had also been on my to-do list for this morning).
By the time noon rolled around, there was more play than work going on and some of the neighborhood “bad element” had snuck in under cover of all the activity to glance surreptitiously (and not so surreptitiously) at some of the kitchen things that I had moved outside in order to clean the floor, and into the kitchen itself. I ended up chasing everyone out of the yard, but not before about 3/4 of the garden had been cultivated.
Although “The Lord helps those who helps themselves” isn’t exactly a Biblical statement, it sure was true today. I’m praising God for a community of hard workers and glad to have gotten so much accomplished!