Monday, January 21, 2008

Feeling a bit tired

Went to my first funeral today and I am feeling wiped. My good friend and co-worker Edna lost her brother early this morning and funerals in Zambia begin immediately after the death of a loved one. These funerals often last 3 or 4 days (including home visitation, preparation of the body for burial, and finally a graveside burial). We went to Edna’s home today and all the furniture had been moved outside to make room for all the women. Men grieve together outside while women gather indoors to weep. And I am not joking around when I say ‘weep.’ Every time a new person enters the house the women gathered begin to wail. Women throw themselves on one another and express their grief together. Most of my coworkers plan to return to Edna’s house and will sleep there for the next few days (until burial). Grieving the loss of a loved one is intensely communal, like most events in Zambia, and I am privileged (and overwhelmed) to be a part of this process.
I really am tired. Perhaps this is because I had an extremely busy weekend. These pics are from one of the events I hosted on Saturday. Seven young women gathered in my home for lunch and dancing. We had a fabulous time, although I could not help but feel a little guilty as they admired all the “things” I have.

They were enamored by all the pictures of friends and family that I have hanging on the wall in my kitchen. I had to explain Halloween costumes (a holiday that is so WEIRD to people here), snow-suit clad children, and images from fancy houses (aka “pretty darn average homes of my friends in the U.S”).

A group from the U.S. arrived last week for a study tour and kindly shared some American goodies, including a People magazine. I poured through every page yesterday (I am a sucker for pop culture), but admit I was rather disgusted by the time I was through. The main substance of the articles were self-indulgent movie star’s bedroom/exercise/eating habits and endless praise for effective diets. What is wrong with us?

1 comment:

Alissa Maxwell said...

Great pictures Carmen. These women are stunning! They may be impressed by our "stuff," but I am impressed by their beauty. It seems you can see their personalities, so well in your pictures. Oh, and we have one of those snowsuit clad children now. Eight inches on the ground at our house!