We met up with Pastor Sikyani and drove out to his place. We had to wait for a bit while they got the donkeys yoked to the cart. I had thought we would be using ox and a bigger cart. We could only put half of our humanitarian goods onto the cart at one time because the donkeys would not be able to pull the weight. We got loaded up and off we went. One young man led the donkeys, pulling a rope at times to help steer them, and the times we were on a roadway he just walked ahead of them and they followed. Another young man walked between the donkeys and the cart and was constantly urging them on and smacking them with a switch. If he wanted them to go left he smacked them each on the right rump and vice versa. These young men walked/ran the whole way along with the donkeys. Our trip was two hours each way.
It got a little tough going and the donkeys were working really hard and were really panting at one point. We got off and walked through the rough uphill areas. When we came to the river (more like a stream during the dry season) Pastor Sikyani said, ‘time to take off our shoes’. We waded across but it was very sandy and only about 8 or 12 inches deep. We walked through the sand on the other side until our feet were somewhat dry and then brushed them off and put our shoes and socks back on.
We passed a few people along the way – there were huts/villages here and there. Some children ran along behind and a couple of times we gave them a ride for a bit. Some children are just plain scared of us and run away or keep their distance. Little ones will sometimes cry when they see us white folk – that makes the older kids and parents laugh. Everyone was friendly and waved at us.
We arrived at the village and there were about 200 or more people there waiting for us. Most of them were sitting under a huge Mulberry tree in the shade. There were some teenage girls that were cooking sadza (corn maize) in a big pot and some vegetables in another pot and they were feeding everyone (in shifts). Most of the people there didn’t know English so people translated for us. We unloaded the cart into a kitchen hut and then we were introduced and a couple of speeches were made (one by Elder Bullock). I am not sure how they were going to distribute the goods but they seemed to have that all figured out. We took out 2 bales of Youth/children’s clothing, 70 hygiene kits, 5 cases of blue bar soap – 1 kg. bars (they use that for laundry and bathing) and about 50 school kits. Everyone should have got something. Pastor Sikyani had to go back and get a second load. The people were prepared to wait. It would take about 4 hrs. for him to return. They said they would use different donkeys for the second trip and let these two rest. I was pretty impressed with the young men who walked a good share of the way. They worked really hard. They do so much walking/running here that they are is very good physical shape. We talked with one a fair bit on the way back as he rode some of the way on the front part of the cart. He wondered how big of a garden we have in Canada and wanted to know if he could go home and take care of it for us. They think we all have people that do those jobs for us. I think the majority of whites here do have domestic help and gardeners. People are surprised when I say that I do my own house cleaning/laundry etc. at home. The blacks who do work for whites are lucky as they have a place to stay, meals and clothes and the children’s school fees are paid. They are also paid a monthly wage which would seem very ‘low’ to us but it is enough. When we told him how many kids and grandkids we have he thought we must have a big farm/garden. They have no idea that our lives are so different than theirs and we don’t tell them. They have no idea!
The trip back was a little quicker but not much. There wasn’t all the weight in the cart so we went more cross-country. It was pretty bumpy at times so we have sore behinds and a few sore muscles from hanging on but it was an interesting experience. We decided it must have been similar to what the pioneers did crossing the plains – only they did it for weeks on end!! The landscape was similar to what it looks like going through the hills at Mountain View.