By the numbers it seems hopeless. In all we are 19 people including 10 students, 4 teachers, 2 translators, 3 small children and an occasional chicken or small rodent. The students include 3 physically disabled adults, 1 deaf woman, and 3 single mothers. For 10 students, we have 6 sewing machines that are in varying degrees of disrepair. Always, it is chaos. The babies are wailing. They urinate all over the floor and our laps, but we hold them anyways, bouncing them in our arms and looking into their curious eyes. We muzungus (white people) can only comfort them for so long before they demand their mother’s milk. The babies latch on and the mothers keeping sewing. The mothers who cannot use their legs, take turns with the hand crank sewing machine. In frustration, Lindsey tries to tune out the crying as she writes instructions to Victoria who is deaf. Peter, always on call for translation but forever restless, sits knotting a friendship bracelet and thinking up poems. I hurry back and forth giving pointers, fixing machines, and looking for misplaced tools. Usually we spill out of our allotted space into the porch, courtyard and unused adjacent rooms, but today, it rained so hard that we had retreat into just two small rooms. Huddled inside like that, I had to laugh at the sight. Everyone went on sewing, learning, teaching, and translating. And for once, the babies were all smiling.
Posted by Polly