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As our van stopped on the red soil sandy road, the women came out in their colourful headscarves, singing an African song. Each one pressed our hands as we walked with them up to see their garden plots and their tree nursery. The school children who had been bathing in the river hid in the bushes to put their school uniforms on, somewhat tattered blue knit sweaters and blue shorts for the boys, pinafore dresses for the girls.

Drinking water for the children

The women were all farmers, and being in the rainy season their gardens were flourishing. The last two years were drought years, so this years rains are very welcome.

As in every village we visited, the women spoke of how blessed they were: they had a new weir to collect water and rooftop gutters that ran down into a tank. Today was the only time this entire trip that I saw a child drink a glass of water.

Yet, these happy women are the desperately poor. In the dry season they may eat one meal every two, or even three days we were told. Most would not have had a simple mattress to sleep on, and getting nutritious food is always a challenge.

Yet they

Alice Guardian of Hope

have organized themselves into a group called the Guardians of Hope to help support the OVCs (orphans and vulnerable children) in their communities by raising money to pay their school fees and by collecting clothing and food to give to them. They will even fix the shelters of child-led households, for example if the rain is coming in.

We as a group have decided that if these desperately poor women are helping the orphans, the best thing we could do is give them a hand.

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