This week we bring you a series of blog posts written by participants in Amizade’s summer service-learning course in Tanzania.  The posts were written by program participants in response to their work with women from one of Amizade’s community partners, Women Emancipation & Development Agency (WOMEDA).

I Have Grown From Your Spirit

I try a conversation, but an interrogation spews from between my teeth.
We do not understand each other.
As hard as I try, connections cannot be formed. I cannot relate.
I thought I was strong until I looked at you – married at fourteen, eight children by forty-four. You cook, cultivate, clean – but you do not complain.
Bugs land swiftly all over your arms and your legs and your face, but you pay no mind. You are accustomed to flies littering your home and resting on your body.
Children sit all over each other, resting on your homemade mats. You are proud of your mats – they bring you a small, but significant joy.
I have furniture in my apartment at home – all you have are mats.
You offer me one as a gift.
You only have two.
Are you so kind because I am white? I am the unknown, a spectacle. You are honored I sit beside you but I do not know why.
I’m no one special, just someone lucky.
You smile your gap-toothed smile and wave away my compliments about your and your beautiful children. You blush, and you look happy.
As we prepare to leave, I expect a soft plea for help, for money. Instead, you thank me dozens of times for visiting your home. You present me with six pineapples – fruit your family needs much more than I do.
This offering is something I cannot deny.
Even between the mud and stick walls of your hut you are humble. You are welcoming. You are indescribably generous.
I am moved by your story. I have grown from your spirit.
You have changed my life.

-Molly Drescher

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