As part of Zambia’s efforts to quell COVID-19, all bars have been closed in Kantolomba and all kichasu-making (home-brewed, illicit corn liquor) shut down. Though any member of the community would tell you just how far-reaching the negative effects of the local alcohol “industry” are in Kantolomba, the only mention I ever heard of attempting to address it was met with a unanimous, “There’s no way. People would never agree to it.”
Yet, like so many other things in this unusual time, overnight, something that was “impossible” happened. The bars are closed; kichasu-brewing halted. Done. Although there almost certainly will be clandestine efforts to get around these measures, the “positive” impacts will likely be significant.
There are countless folks, almost all of them women—among them the beloved mother of Mirriam, one of our nursing students—who rely on brewing kichasu for their income. Desperately poor already, no formal employment available, the tools of one’s only trade confiscated and now told to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus…
“How will she manage?” we ask Theresa of Mirriam’s mother.
“She will.” Theresa responded.
I was so struck by the wisdom, and even encouragement, reassurance, and leadership, in Theresa’s response.
Mirriam is part of the Living Compassion family. This makes her mother part of the family. So what does that mean? What will we do? Surely there will be dozens, possibly hundreds, of people in impossible financial situations. As the virus hit the world economy, the price of mealie meal (the staple food in Zambia) shot up 40%! What are we going to do?
We keep saying it… we are acutely reminded in these times that we don’t know. I don’t project Theresa “knows” either. But what we do know, in the sense that it is our direct experience, is that we have an incredible team, an incredible Sangha, and through their leadership, we have taken each step in turn—this, now this, now this—resulting in things many would have said 15 years ago were impossible.
What Now, Life?
What Now is that our next call with Theresa is coming up. It is so clear that that is plenty to “know” for now.