Friday, March 12, 2010

Into the Valley

It's about 90 degrees inside the tiny mud hut. My arms are shaking from holding the boom pole, sweat is dripping down my face and back as I try to shift the pole between the 7 family members we're interviewing. They are all staring at us in wonder, as I'm pretty sure this is the first film crew they've welcomed into their crowded home.

Today was really our first taste of the rustic, and impoverished lifestyle of many of the Zulu families in the "Valley of 1000 Hills." A local Bishop has taken us to interview this particular family. As with many Zulu families, the grandmother or "go-go" is the head of this household. She is strong and proud and essentially raising four young children with little aid or resources. A whole generation has been lost to the AIDS epidemic. There are very few 20 to 30 year-olds around, fewer men than women, leaving an older generation to take care of a much younger one.

The go-go, with her family sprawled on a mat around her, tells us of the hardships she encounters each day. One of her grandchildren is nearly blind, and she can't afford to get him proper care. She's worried about his future, as he can't go to school or function normally in society. Most of her family's sustenance comes from a garden she tends, and what little pension she receives from the government.

It's an incredible interview, but it's not easy to hear. They tell us they are happy we are there to visit them, and tell their story, but still I can't help but feel invasive.

When we leave I grab a handful of Luna Bars, a bunch of packages of crackers and a bag of Target trail mix to give to the kids. I wish we had more to offer, and as we drive away I can't help but wonder what will become of these kids, this family, and whether we could have done something more for them.

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