She is so incredibly beautiful, with her high cheekbones and bright eyes whenever she smiles. While not speaking much, I feel her keen attentiveness to the conversation happening around her as I ask her husband questions about their family’s experience as part of AFCA’s livelihood program. She is eager to show me the water filter and leads me to the mud hut she, her husband, and her nine children and grandchildren call home. It is swept clean, with small rooms divided by cloth panels, which she pushes out of her way as she walks towards the filter. She shows me how it works and I applaud with two short, low claps to show her my gratitude for how well-cared it is. The family has not experienced stomach or intestinal issues since using the filter and they are all grateful, as am I.
We return to the meeting being held in the front yard of the house, only to be reminded that we need to check out the corn that has been stored for this season’s planting. Giggling, we return to the guy and enter a different small room where she reaches out to grab two ears of maize, held up to show her pride. She points to the enormous basket on stilts, safe from vermin and water. This is where the extra corn is kept, and I feel such happiness at their hard work and determination to feed their children, while also getting them to school with the funds earned from the sale of excess food. With a hand on my heart, I smile at her and she returns the gesture. I reach out and touch her face and for the span of 3-4 seconds, she leans into my palm, connecting us for that tiny blip of time. We make our way outside, back into the bright sunshine, where I feel the skin on my neck and nose tighten up again, soaking in the incessant sun.