Hi there, Giovanna here (not my real name, for security reasons…)
Here is part 6 of my blog ‘A personal reflection on ‘serving in Afghanistan” – if you missed the earlier parts, here they are:
In my last blog I spoke re Aisha (not her real name), unwanted and unloved and how a friend of ours shared her life with her and tried to communicate how loved Aisha was by her loving heavenly Father who sent Jesus into the world.
Now I will talk about Zainab (not her real name). Zainab was actually Pakistani but from the same people group as the Afghans Aisha and Laila, Pushtun.
To cut a long story short, we Brits in Empire days pushed back the boundary of what was then India into land that was then Afghanistan. So now half the Pushtuns live in Pakistan which of course was formed in 1947 separating from India…phew! We won’t go into the politics of it! However next time I will share more about the Pushtun people who are very unreached.
Zainab was a character! I came home one day to find her boiling up a goat’s head in a pan on my stove…eyes and all…which was not pleasant to see, nor smell! Another time I was away for 6 weeks. I came back and went to get my German vacuum cleaner which I had bought from a German lady who had left…vacs then were hard to come by.
Couldn’t find it anywhere! Then had a thought! Not a good one! Opened the kitchen door to the yard and sure enough there was my lovely German vacuum cleaner standing next to the brooms in the open yard! Unfortunately it was monsoon season (they have it in Pakistan but not in Afghanistan which is dryer) and for weeks there had been heavy rain. The vacuum cleaner was ruined. I was pretty angry but had to acknowledge that Zainab as a village lady just wouldn’t have understood the issues of electrical items and water… so she had stored it where it seemed logical to her!
Mind you I wasn’t as angry as my housemate was when she discovered that every time she came Zainab was using her toothbrush!! Honestly I couldn’t stop laughing because for some reason she had never used mine!!
Zainab was a single unmarried mother. In Pushtun culture that is quite a stigma to say the least! She said she was widowed but details were very vague and it was unconvincing so either she got pregnant unmarried and the Father of the child did not want to marry her or someone took advantage of her – maybe an uncle or other relative. Then the family didn’t really want to know her. She was very poor. At one point I went to visit to find she had moved house from a poor but at least livable house to sharing a room with a horse!
She said the next door neighbour was paying her to house the horse. The horse had peed on the floor so the house stank, with barely a stick of furniture in there. She served me a cup of tea in a dirty cup and insisted I ate some rice, just plain boiled rice nothing else. The evening before I had been at a large hotel celebrating my friend’s birthday. The contrast was stark.
Always enterprising she then got a job cleaning for a wealthy Pakistani family, well 2 sisters who shared a house. This was unusual as even in wealthy families women were expected and often forced to stay with their parents until they married. Zainab and her son had nice rooms and good meals each day except that after a while she discovered they were not sisters but 2 women living together and in a relationship. In Pakistan at that time and maybe now this was considered something quite shocking. She and her son left. They preferred being poor.
Next I knew she was married to a man who was already married, i.e. as his second wife. A Muslim man is allowed to have up to 4 wives but most don’t. More about that next time.
I will also tell you how Zainab attended a showing of the Jesus film and what happened.
p.s. Would you like to find out more about Christian mission in Afghanistan?