I called the SHONA ladies this afternoon, which is evening in Congo. Only to discover that the women were already tucked into bed. On the table.
It seems there was a snake incident. Apparently some snakes have appeared in the SHONA women's house. After a long, convoluted story about these snakes which seemed to involve references to burning the snakes and digging holes (keep in mind this conversation was in Swahili over a long distance phone connection!), I established that three of the women are currently tucked into bed on top of the large table that they normally use for cutting cloth and eating dinner. I tried to establish why it was that they thought the snakes would not be able to climb up the table (or drop down onto the table), but it seems there was debate about precisely this question. You see there are actually 6 women living in the SHONA house, the four SHONA women plus Mapendo's niece and Riziki's younger sister.
Three of the women had decided that they had to leave the house all together. They went to sleep in the new apartment that we have just rented right next door (they haven't officially moved in yet, as the owner is still fixing the apartment, but apparently they decided that an empty apartment under repair is significantly better than a house with snakes). The other women appear to have decided that a house with snakes is better. As long as you sleep on the table, that is.
I have tried to give my strong opinion on this issue, and hopefully they will abandon the table tactic. But then again, nyoka (snake) is a very broad word in Swahili, and perhaps they have more information than I do about the situation.
Either way, we are very anxious for the SHONA ladies to move into their new home. Hopefully the repairs will be completed and they can move this weekend. Beyond the snake issue, their old home has also started leaking, and it really is time to move.
We have paid part of the required 5 month deposit on the new apartment already, and the landlord has generously given us a few extra weeks to come up with the rest. Please do continue shopping with SHONA and take advantage of our SALE this week (10% off everything!). Your purchases will help to make sure that we can pay the full-deposit, and the ladies can stay in their new home. This new home is very important because the ladies current house is being torn down (not to mention being taken over by snakes), and finding a safe, clean place for the women to live and work, with access to electricity and bathrooms that they can get into with their crutches, is not so easy. This apartment will give them all of that. And besides they won't have to sleep on the table!