Francesca sat quietly as the rest of the women reacquainted themselves, folding her hands over her bright pink skirt and interjecting occasionally in Luo.
Margaret said something and Francesca laughed, throwing her had back and clapping her hands together. She reached over and clasped my hand, still laughing, before speaking rapid fire Luo back.
And that was how I met Francesca.
At 48 years old, Francesca is known as mother to eleven children. Three are grown and gone, but eight children still live under her roof. Of these eight children, two are orphans that she has taken in. Danielle is seven and Rosalyn is eleven. Despite already having nine children, she and her husband still opened their doors to two more. I thought that was incredible, and when I told her so she laughed.
With seven children to rear, the majority of her time is spent in the house. She has a garden she cares for behind her kitchen that provides the majority of the food for her family. Most of her days are spent either working in the garden or harvesting and plaiting sisal into rope for sale. With so much time passed at home, she admitted that she is happiest when a friend comes over to visit.
“I love to have a friend to talk to, laugh with, and get advice from,” she said, smiling and squeezing my hand.
The wind blew in the door of Pamela’s house, bringing a blessed relief from the hot African afternoon. The laborers had finished with digging the trenches for the day, so the only sound remaining was the braying of the goats outside the window and the occasional motorbike passing on the road.
“And water?” I asked.
Francesca clucked her tongue, shaking her head. The majority of her drinking water is obtained from a collapsed borehole, she told me. But during the dry season, this borehole dries up. Half of the year they trek up to a kilometer away, tracking down seasonal ponds shared with wildlife. And they use this water for everything, from drinking to cooking and cleaning.
I asked her if she had anything she wanted to tell the people back home. She released my hand and turned to me very intently.
“I want you to tell the donors,” she said. “I want you to tell them that I think the donors great. They give when they have not seen the people here, when they have not seen the need here. But they still give and it makes me so happy!”