We had hoped for a quiet morning before our 36-hour journey home, but it was not to be. Jonah's customers arrive early - even before dawn which is about 6am. They are given a chair to sit on and they wait patiently until he can see them.
One that will stay with us for a long time arrived this morning. Mary Hamoonga is a bright young woman who, at the age of 28, had just completed a lab tehnician's course and was looking forward to a bright future which would enable her to support not only herself but her extended family as well, when she was struck down by a mysterious paralysis four months ago. The cause remains unknown, but she has lost the use of both legs and one arm. She came from her village of Magoye, 37 km away on (and off) the road to Mazabuka - a daunting journey by public transport for such a disabled person. It was great to be able to give her one of the wheelchairs that the Women's World Day of Prayer had funded and to pray with her.
We then had a our good-bye lunch with the staff. Our visit was a lot of work for them, and inevitably disruptive, and it was a nice way to thank them for all their help and forebearance. It had been a very useful visit, and we achieved most of what we had set out to do.
All too soon it ws time to head off to the bus station for our 1.30 Shalom bus. Shalom means peace, something of a misnomer! It eventually arrived at 2.15, a live young goat in the luggage hold was pushed out of the way to make room for our luggage - I kid you not - the belt holding the door shut was tightened, and we left sharp at 2.30. Normal African timing. After a couple of stops - one to fix the door of the luggage hold that had sprung open, the other to converse with another Shalom bus that had broken down - we arrived at Lusaka Intercity bus station, a large and chaotic place. We eventually met up with Mpimpa, an elder at Woodlands SDA church who had responsibilty for disability affairs there. We went to his church to get a video of the distribution of some of our wheelchairs that Jonah had passed on to him (click here to see it), and were treated to some beautiful African singing by the choir practice. Then we went off to see the recipients.
The first was Mpimpa's grandmother. Interestingly, the primary beneficiary here was Mpimpa's mother who is 70: as carer, the wheelchair meant that she could wheel her mother to the bathroom instead of having to carry her or rely on diapers. Next was Nalucha, who had a stroke ten years ago - the wheelchair means that she can be taken outside to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. And finally, Abigail who is a 10 year old girl: a failed operation to correct a deformity of her foot had led to problems with her hips, leaving her severely disabled. Her 11-year-old brother Arthur is also disabled, having bad knees and having to crawl everywhere. They both live with their grandmother, both their parents having died.
So we were monitoring up to the last moment!
And then it was off to the airport. We wanted to arrive by 11pm, so we told Mpimpa 10pm, and he duly deposited us at the airport at 10.30pm. Time to change into long trousers, which felt strange after a fortnight in shorts, and check in for our Rwandair flights back home via Harare, Kigali, Brussels and Gatwick. We had been a bit apprehensive about Rwandair, but the aircraft were reasonably modern and the in-flight service was good, even if the timing was a bit African. And they were cheap!