A life as a holiday

Newsletter August 2016
New Cooking Bag

There was a soft knock to my door last night. Emmanuel, a teenager from our village, stood at my doorstep a little shyly. He phrased his request in English carefully: 'Sister Salima, please, can you help me? I may go to secondary school but my family don't have the money. I need a table and a chair for the class room, I need to buy books and pay tuition too...'.

I looked around at how neglected my compound was. Weeds were coming up to my knees, it looked like the bush. 'How very convenient that you should knock on my door. We could actually help each other out. I'll be going on a holiday soon. Can you do something about this jungle in the mean time? I'll pay you, so you will be able to buy your books. ' I took him to Lizzy’s hut and from under a layer of dust and junk a table and a chair appeared. 'These are for you. You can take them to school'. It's so nice to give unused furniture a second life.
This morning, Emmanuel woke me at five thirty, carrying a bent spade on his shoulder. 'Good morning, shall I start?' A child after my own heart: a hard worker. Good morning, indeed!

I can't wait to spoil my mother again and the thought of full-grain bread with cheese and a latte makes my mouth water. However: I also have the wonderful feeling that I don't need a holiday from the kind of life I live. I love doing what I do and living where I live so much!

The New Cooking Bags are doing great. The amount of interest is amazing and so many Ghanaians are already using them. It's hard to come by kapok at the moment, so we all do our best and we get help from unexpected places. Family members of our employees offered help, we let a call go out on the radio and itwas answered. Yesterday, to the sound of our loud cheers, a lorry with no less than 100 bags of kapok came in. They take only one month to process, and we still have 7 months to go until the next kapok harvest, but we don't give up faith. Just to make sure, we've started an experiment with rice chaff as an insulating filling. It works fine, too! And when the rice will be harvested in December, we will be able to get plenty of chaff. We don't give up easily.

The new workplace is simply fantastic. We are so lucky to have it. You should see us working together there. It all goes so smoothly. Everyone has their own task, well fitted to their specific capacities. Children are playing in the spacious compound, plants are flowering in large pots on the veranda and in the midst of all this there's our Special Workers, who are so proud of the important place they have here.

I love being in each of the workshops. They both have their own wonderful qualities. It was a little quieter in the water sachet department during Ramadan, but now the school holiday has started, children are eagerly waiting at our doorstep every day again and loads of water sachets are brought in. Haruna was sitting behind a gigantic pile of sachets, today, sorting them, and he said with a sigh: 'I'll be working at New Cooking Bag tomorrow.' He loves to work in the garden, there. It gives him some quiet time. As far as he's concerned, school holidays may be over and the kids may be back in school soon. But... after all these years we can finally see the streets getting cleaner. Isn't that fantastic? It's just what we have been working for!

The plan to make washable nappies and washable sanitary towels got a wonderful reception. Everyone would love to see what they will look like. Several journalist have been asking for the scoop. We are, however, still looking for the right fabric, which isn't easy. I'll be pondering that during my holiday.

I can easily be missed here for a while, which is a great feeling. And after my holiday, I'll be coming home to a life which in itself feels like a holiday.

PS: I enjoy talking about our work when I'm in the Netherlands. I love being invited to do so!