Mapendo sitting on one of the few things she still owns, her wooden bed frame. It is covered with sheets since she no longer has a mattress.
3 weeks ago thieves entered the house where Mapendo lives while she was at the shop working. They stole pretty much everything she owns, except the wooden frame of her bed. She came home to discover that everything was gone, except the clothes on her back.
This is how the new year started for Mapendo. For 3 weeks she has worn the same clothes everyday, because she has no others, and slept on the wooden slats of her bed, since the thieves stole her mattress.
But it is worse than that. Those thieves made off not only with all of her possessions but also all of her earnings for the month of December. Mapendo normally wouldn't keep money at home, but she had been preparing to send money to her mother who has been sick, and to take care of the many other family responsibilities that she carries.
The irony is this. Just that week Mapendo had called in a carpenter to take measurements for a new door on her bedroom. In a country with little security, strong doors matter a lot. Trying to be prudent, Mapendo had set aside her own money to have a new door installed. And she thinks it was this very action that drew attention to her and led to the robbery. In the irony of Goma, the very act of trying to make yourself even slightly more secure, and protect the very little that you have, can make you a target.
Mapendo spent the first 3 weeks of the new year with no mattress, no clothes and no money, and I had no idea of what was happening. I have been busy with the new baby and Mapendo was embarrassed to tell me. When I found out I gave her enough money to buy a new mattress and a few pairs of clothes. But she still desperately misses the rest of the money she lost, money that should have gone to help her family and buy food for the month. The beautiful reality of SHONA is that the money each artisan earns touches the lives of so many. But on the flip side, when that money get lost, so many people feel it.
I asked Mapendo what she has been thinking these past three weeks. She answered, "nilifunga roho". Literally that means "I closed my heart", it carries with it the idea of hardening oneself/steeling oneself for difficult times.
This is life in Goma, where too often it is necessary "kufunga roho"...and yet the people of Goma open their hearts and carry on, again and again. As for Mapendo she is anxious to get back to work, and to start again.
I'm in the process of listing our new stock in our store, so please check it out, and consider buying something from SHONA this month, in support of Mapendo as she gets on her feet again. Or if you'd like to directly send a little money her way click here.