“Mimi, Maria”


“Mimi, Maria”


We hiked down to the river, crossed a rickety bridge and slipped down the red mud bank to dabble our feet in the cool water .It was an ideal time as we watched purple petals tossed by the wind dance in the water.


We continued up the opposite hill stopping once and a while to take in the view of the lush countryside and distant vistas.  To our left, Steph pointed out a small hut made of mud and sticks. “A Granny lives there. Go and see.” All was really quiet. I called “Hodi” a few times and then stuck my head in the door. A voice surprised me “Karibu” ( welcome)

An old hunched lady crept out and when seeing us, fell to her knees. Putting her face in her hands she sobbed. In essence she was telling us, “I am in pain. I am sad. You have come and you have brought nothing” Steph kindly listened and empathized “ Pole Bibi” “Pole Bibi’ Sorry Granny.


Our ideal day had twisted. All of us were dismayed. However like good Canadians we had a plan. We would come back with chai, biscuits, sugar, and a blanket. This we did… When we arrived a few days later, Bibi was out gathering wood, panga(machete) in hand. She invited us into her house, two tiny rooms one for a bed and one for the kitchen…a simple fire pit surrounded by three stones. We gave her the blanket, tea, sugar and biscuits. Bibi sobbed. Then in true spirit of receiving guests, scooped beans into a bowl, licked the edge where there was a drip, washed three spoons and led us outside to sit, visit, and eat.


So we did…engaging in much conversation, more tears, some thanks to Jesus and Mary and of course we learned her name “ Maria”  Carolyn cut a little wood which worried Bibi . I think she was worried more about dulling her panga then Carolyn’s fingers. We took Maria’s picture. She was most excited to see her face.  She said, “Ni mimi, Maria” “That’s me, Maria!”
After much more laughter, tears and handshaking we ended our visit. Maria walked us to the edge of her hill. When we crossed the river and climbed back up the other side we could see her waving.  Well, she has her home, her beans, bananas, and mangos. Wood is readily available and children get her water. What more could she want ? Actually she does love Lois‘s green T shirt especially the V neck , so I guess we will be back.

Janine Longy



















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