Benny’s Smile

Description

Meet Benny in Zambia: a father who smiles because his family no longer has to worry about dirty water! Read his story and see how clean water is helping this community expand their church.

Benny Hampande in Zambia makes bricks for a new church.

Meet Benny in Zambia … a father who smiles because his family no longer has to worry about dirty water!

Read his story and see how clean water is helping this community expand their church.

Today, I hold a brick in my hands and a smile in my heart. They both come from the same person: Benny Hampande.

Benny’s smile is not the kind of smile you often see coming from a man who lives in rural Africa. I’ve met fathers all across Africa and around the world for whom the burden of parenthood is draining. Worrying and working to help a family survive every day can sap a man’s energy and enthusiasm. So can having children who are constantly sick and a wife who is always bone tired.

Benny’s life is different.

Benny is a 45-year-old father of seven in Susumaambo Village in southern Zambia who I liked immediately because of his smile. It was brilliant, adding more shine to an afternoon already radiant with warm, winter sun.

Benny has the kind of family every person craves. His wife, Eniah, is busy and fulfilled, raising her children, growing a garden, and selling homemade fritters—deep fried cakes chock full of fresh vegetables.

Daughter Everlyn, 13, is at the top of her class and college bound. She wants to be an accountant. The family lives in a beautifully kept home complete with sweet, lazy dogs, Benjy, Lion, and Borrowed Pepper.

But what really makes Benny smile is how he spends his Tuesdays.

Every Tuesday, Benny and about 20 men from his church get together and get dirty.  I visited them one day, all covered in mud. I recognized Benny by that smile.

The men are making bricks—but not for their homes. They’re building a church.

Ever since Benny’s village got clean water, lifestyles have changed. People have more time because they aren’t constantly fetching water—water that was dirty. Because the water is clean, children no longer get sick.

Benny says the spiritual life of his family has changed with the advent of clean water. “Now we can go to church proudly. I couldn’t go to church dirty,” he says. Other community members feel the same.

In Benny’s church, there isn’t enough room for parishioners anymore. Church is now packed. People have to sit on the floor.

The men of the church are fixing that. Soon families will have a larger church in which to worship, built with their fathers’ own hands. 

I have a brick the men made sitting on my desk. When I hold it in my hands, some of the mud rubs off on my fingers, staining them with red dust—a dust that carries me back to Zambia and watching the men at work, turning mud into bricks to bake like bread in the warm sun.

I look at my red fingers and I smile.

Just like Benny.

Written by Kari Costanza
Photo: ©2014 Jon Warren/World Vision

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