Monday, August 1, 2011

The Women of KPatinga

Some say they are witches.  I call them the Women of KPatinga.

In the culture of the Northern Region there are many things that are difficult for a Westerner to understand.  The custom of banishing a woman from a village is one of them.  My understanding is that in order to banish a woman (I've never heard of a man being banished, but maybe that happens, too), there has to be two witnesses that accuse her of being a witch, meaning that the witness either saw, felt or dreamed something strange about the woman.  Her case is then presented to the local village chief and then to the regional chief.  If both men agree to the banishment, then she is labeled as a witch and sent away, never to return.  Other villages also shun her and she may eventually find her way to a Witch Camp.  KPatinga is one such camp.

The women of KPatinga have a landlord who is considered a witchdoctor.  It is said that he has the power to exorcise them of their witchcraft.  He does have power, that is for certain.  He has the power to do whatever he wants and the power to make decisions about food distribution, etc.  The women are held captive by his control over them.

This was our second visit to KPatinga.  Last year we visited there and were received with great enthusiasm and gratitude.  The women there told us that our visit brought value to them.  It was a humbling and life changing experience.

On this year's visit, we brought cooking pots and a few bags of maize and rice (two items we were told they needed).  Our wonderful friends at World Vision helped us purchase, transport, and distribute the grain. 

Once again we found the women to be gracious and welcoming. As we were preparing to leave, a small group of the women approached us and began singing a song of thanksgiving for our visit.  The only thing better than hearing them sing was the joy and happiness in their eyes.
Here are a few pictures of the grain and rice distribution.

It started raining right after we arrived, so we took shelter in a local school that was built by World Vision so that the granddaughters of the Women of KPatinga could be educated.  These women are waiting to receive their portion of the grain and rice.

42 bowls for 42 women

Picking up their bowls of rice
Several of the granddaughters of the KPatinga Women live in the camp.  They have a moral obligation to help their grandmothers survive.  Some of them are shunned also because of the stigma attached to them. 

We want to express our gratitude to the donor from the US who provided the cooking pots, grain and rice for distribution to the KPatinga Women.

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