Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A thief, a hug and free school for a year

Here’s a link to the latest Rushville Republican article which was published. In it I’m talking about some of my secondary projects.

To catch a thief

Friday night a thief (or two) broke into where Jacob works and stole 3 of their motorbikes. The motorbikes are locked up in the back which is like a small courtyard in the middle of the offices with a locked gate located between two buildings. I’m not exactly sure how they stole the bikes, but I do know that there were 2 night watchmen. Typically when night watchmen catch a thief, if the thief tries to run they are shot and killed, which always makes me a little leery when I have to go and retrieve my bike from their late at night or early in the morning. As a precaution I go in with my arms up saying, “It’s me! It’s just me and I’m getting my bike.” On several occasions I’ve found the guards sleeping. Let’s face it, it’s a boring job and some of them have day jobs as well as their night duties.

The next morning, when the rest of the staff came in to work nobody had even noticed that the bikes were gone. The guards had even changed shifts. When the theft was noted, and this was the interesting part, the guards that were on duty were thrown in prison! This was done for one of two reasons, first off it was their duty to protect the place and they failed. Secondly, it’s possible (though not likely knowing the trustworthiness of these guards) that they conspired with the thieves to coordinate the robbery. As a result, they’ll be in prison for an indefinite amount of time or unless the bikes are recovered. In addition, two of the staff were thrown into prison for a few hours because on the sign-out sheet they had signed the bike out but had failed to sign them back in when they came back with them, which I’ve been told everybody forgets to sign the bikes back in… Yikes!

Up the ante

Last time I talked about Israel from Israel who had always struck me as a Scrooge character, a real miser, who randomly decided to sponsor a race if I organized it and to give the 4 winners free school fees for a year, totaling around $1,000 USD. Well yesterday, he stopped me on my bike to tell me he had changed his mind. I knew it was too good to be true. I figured he had too much to drink or was in some state of euphoria and that this type of generosity had to have been short lived or only the stuff of a Charles Dickens novel. He said to me, “I’ve changed my mind. Instead of 4 kids receiving free school for a year I want 5 to receive free school for a year. And for the rest of the participants I’ll buy mosquito nets for them. 50 mosquito nets should be enough, don’t you think?” I must have stood there for a minute with a deer in the headlights look on my face because he started to laugh and then punched my right shoulder causing me to stumble back a step. “We’ll have a big celebration at my farm when the finish, too! You just get it organized!” So I told him I would.

On our doorstep

A woman literally showed up on our doorstep last week at Compassion. She was traveling in to town to go to the police because her husband had abused her and thrown her out. She was traveling with 3 small children and a small burlap bag that had all of her and her children’s worldly possessions and she had collapsed at our office, 1 km from town, without even the strength to finish her journey. The husband had 8 wives and this woman was poor, destitute and desperate to flee. The district probation officer had been called to help remedy the situation and after some discussion with the staff we decided that she should take her children and go to be with her mother who lived an 8 hour bus ride to the east of here. We discussed taking the children into the Compassion program which is sometimes a lengthy process, but we thought that more immediate action was needed in this situation. We collected some money amongst the staff and sent her along, hopefully into a better situation.

Husbands can have several wives here. Olivia, the manager at Sky Blue, tries to convince me each time we talk that it’s ok for men to have several wives, especially if one or more of the wives fail to provide him a child. She has told me on several occasions that if her husband chose to have another wife then that would be just fine by her, that men are in charge and are permitted to do so and that it’s the wife’s job to just be submissive and accept it. Talk about a different culture. Her uncle, a Christian man who has 4 wives, has helped to pay for her school fees along the way. He has a good job and is able to support all of his wives, however, many villagers that I’ve seen who have several wives have little means to support one wife plus children, not to mention several. Of course, each wife needs her own house and plot of land. It’s just more backwards logic they have here about family planning, believing that multiple wives and children are a source of pride rather than a financial burden.

Random act of kindness

I was at Sky Blue restaurant last week having a rather bad day to go along with a bad week and a bad month when all of a sudden I felt something wrap around my legs. It was quite a different feeling than my cousin, Dixie, who had a cobra wrap around her leg and bite her in Peace Corps Ghana last month (she’s now the only person in her village to survive a poisonous snake bite). I looked down to find some random 5 year old boy with both arms wrapped firmly around me, smiling at me saying How are you, Brian? I say a random boy because this isn’t anyone I recognized. It’s not a Compassion child, nor any child I’ve had any previous encounters with. This isn’t the first time it’s happened. Occasionally as I’m walking down the street some small child whom I don’t know will wrap me up in a gigantic hug (gigantic for a child that is) and greet me. Instantly my mood is transformed and I wonder what I’ve done to receive such a kind gift. Kids have this amazing way of teaching the rest of us a better way to live sometimes. There’s another small girl I pass on my ride up to my place who, twice, has greeted me and then told me Brian, you are good. You are kind. I don’t know where she picked up this phrase or why she uses it with me, but it acts to serve as a reminder to me. I’m rather hard on myself and forget that I am, at times, good and kind.


At 24 August, 2007, Blogger NanettePC said...

You are good and kind, and don't you forget it;)


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