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).

Bread, Bananas and Brandy

Today, leather faced and weak,
she arises with the sun.
She reaches for her retroviral pills, and hunts the mud room for water.
Infected at the age of 44, she can feel her days dwindling down.
Jerry can #1…empty.
Jerry can #2…missing.
Jerry can #3…drier than the Serengeti.
Too weak to walk the 10 km for water, she surrenders to the progression of her disease.
No water, no medicine, no chance to survive.
She lies back down defeated, lips cracked and flaky.
She would cry, but her body lacks the moisture to produce the salty tears she feels in her soul.

Today, well rested but cranky,
I arise to the buzz of the alarm clock and the intense smell of Starbucks Christmas blend coffee.
I reach for the snooze button to allow 12 more minutes of blissful sleep.
A fresh towel awaits my exit from the warm shower
I scramble to collect my laptop, books, calculator and notebooks for class.
Running late again.
I grab a breakfast bar, jump into the car and speed off to campus.

Today, brokenhearted and exhausted,
she arises to the sound of the baby’s croupy cough followed by high pitched screams.
She reaches for the child before he wakes.
Crack. Too late
She can feel his annoyance in the pulsing pain on the back of her head.
Pregnant by 14, married 6 months later.
7 more children, only 4 alive.
She prepares her husband breakfast.
Bread, bananas and brandy for him, 4 day old portage for the rest.

-Emily Cowan

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