Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Death Row in Zambia

I received my second letter today from T, who is on death row in prison in Zambia. It was a very long letter. Two letters actually, and a poem. I stayed in bed today until 11.30! I told Steve I wasn't going to get up as I was shattered from painting the kitchen. So he took Luke to work with him! They had great fun. Luke washed the shop windows and was an all round great little helper. I picked him up at 12 and he was full of stories about how he had helped Daddy. Sam and Jude often work in the shop with Daddy, and he feels so grown up being able to do it too.
So when I got back with Luke at 12 this letter from Zambia had been delivered. It was a sobering start to the day, and helped me to appreciate my life and forget about the little stresses. The first letter I received from him was a basic introduction, which I replied to. This letter was an account of his life, how he ended up in prison, what daily life is like. He was involved in a robbery. They were caught by the police and because he was in possession of a gun he was put onto death row. He says that in Zambia anyone caught with a gun is put on death row. His family have forgotten him. He has been there since 1999. He shares a very small, windowless cell with 5 other men. They do not have toilets in the cell and have to use pots which they empty every day. There is a small vent in the cell, and he says that the prisoners often get delirious and imagine themselves transforming into insects so that they can crawl through the vents to freedom. He says that prison there is very hard for anyone who do not have family. The luckier prisoners can get food and basic necessities from their families, but the unfortunate ones get nothing. Absolutely nothing is provided, apart from one small meal a day. He says that all the poorer men are hungry and they worry constantly about food. He was delayed in writing back to my letter (which he says he had read 10 times, as it was like a visitor to him) because he had no stamps. He had to clean other prisoners toilet pots, and hand wash their clothes, in return for a stamp to reply with.
In his second letter, which was in the same envelope, he told me that he has recently found out that he is HIV positive and he is devastated. The drugs he needs are provided by the hospital, but he has to take them with food, and some times he doesn't have any food to take them with, so they make him ill. He is hoping that I don't judge him for having HIV and that I will still write to him. He has asked me to ask every Christian that I know to pray for him, and for his illness.

After reading his letter I felt grateful for the life that I have, joyous that I could bring a little happiness to the life of someone less fortunate, and scared by the prospect of writing to someone who had nothing else in life to look forward to.


Marian said...

That is devastating. I can't imagine such a life but in our world, there is so little which can be trusted it seems. Even those we love and feel are our families and friends, desert and destroy us. What else is there for these people but the hope that God is somewhere on their case.

I admire your courage and vigilence Hazel for the time you spend giving of yourself to those less fortunate. If only we could all forget about ourselves and our selfish lives and think about others. What a wonderful place we would live in.

educatingmummy said...

Thankyou for sharing we will pray for that precious man. Well done on getting your kitchen done!

Hazel said...

Aww thanks Mum for the comment.
And thanks educatingmummy for keeping T in you prayers.