Sunday, 26 May 2013

Is That 'Nor' for Northampton or Norway ?

This weekend, has been somewhat of a landmark time for me. For the first time in about 18 years I have not travelled to the Annual Camp of 1st Hinckley Boys' Brigade. This year celebrating their 50th year of camping. I am not up to my armpits in cooking utensils, starting a week long marathon of providing three meals a day for about 60 hungry mouths. 99% of which are male.
Instead, I have been sitting relaxing in the sun, in Central Africa. I started to feel a little unsettled about missing 'Camp'. For all it's hard work, it was always one of my favourite times of the year. I spent a week surrounded by people I cared about, doing something tangibly useful. Part of me was quite unhappy about not being there. I began to feel I was missing out.
So, I started along the, 'right-where-would -you-rather-be' line of thought. I love living in Burundi, I love teaching in Burundi.......... Then, as I wandered round the garden contemplating things. It occurred to me, it's not really a case of setting the two things against each other. It's a case of accepting, that I am in Burundi now. My life has changed, my experiences have changed, my relationships have changed. That's what life does, it changes. Life is full of variety and difference. I suddenly became aware of all the different leaves in the garden. How dull would it be, if they were all the same? It's not a case of, 'I'd rather be here,' it's a case of, this is where I am. This is what I am doing now. To come to the conclusion that I'd rather be doing this, seems to devalue what I have done in the past. That doesn't feel like a good way to deal with the now. If I could, I would do both! But I can't. I have to value what I have now and treasure what I have had in the past.

Late Saturday morning, I went of to the beach with a number of others. We were happily sitting on the beach, having partaken of an 'old chestnut' of a conversation entitled, 'Is it right for us rich Westerners to enjoy ourselves, flaunting our wealth and relaxing in the sunshine, when the majority of the population of Burundi cannot afford to do so?' We had reached the uneasy conclusion, that rest and relaxation were important factors of our lives. We had perhaps a slight discomfort with the knowledge that there were possibly other ways of relaxing, that did not  require patronising a posh hotel where Fantas are 3000fbu instead of the usual 1500fbu.
In the ,water near us a group of children were swimming/washing in the lake. They were not patrons of the hotel. They were clearly poor children sent to the lake to wash themselves and their clothes (and have some fun at the same time).
Suddenly, I was aware of a bit of a commotion at the water's edge. The children were coming out of the water. A passing mzungu (white man) stopped walking and rushed back to the children. As I stood up to see what was happening, I realised to my horror that they were dragging the body of a small child out of the water. The body of a little boy, who had moments before made us all chuckle, because he had brazenly removed most of his clothes and bared his bottom to us, before joining his playmates in the water.
Fortunately, one of our group was a medical doctor. Immediately, action was taken to resuscitate. I was shocked to realise that there was no ambulance to call. His only chance of life was the fact that there were rich westerners on the beach near where he had drowned. He was rushed off to the nearest hospital and did in fact start breathing on the way. He regained consciousness eventually and was basically ok and reunited with his family.
He was a very tiny, little 8 year old Congolese refugee. His home is a 'camp' not far from the lake. He had come to the lake in the care of an 8 year old friend. Whose job it was to make sure he didn't go in the water, because he is epileptic. His friend had been having so much fun in the water, he forgot to watch out.
Because he survived I can share this one amusing aspect to the story, which will be lost on anyone who hasn't ever watched SouthPark. His name was Kenny!
(The picture, is a group of street boys swimming/washing in the lake, taken on a previous visit to the beach)
 Following the trip to the beach, I had the privilege of being able to watch Leicester Tigers win the 2013 Aviva Premiership. My viewing companions being Anya (aged 3) and Molly (puppy 9 weeks). Neither of whom seemed to quite appreciate the significance of the events unfolding upon the TV. There is nothing quite like a three year old, man-handling a small puppy, to distract you from an exciting rugby match!
Half way through, I was joined by Anya's 6 year old brother, Daniel. He was a far more appreciative companion. Asking sensible questions like, 'who do we want to win the greens or the whites?' He was a little disappointed to discover that Nor stood for Northampton not Norway. But he was ecstatic when I told him that the greens were in fact winning. And he just watched and cheered without worrying about who was doing what or why?

 So, here I am Blogging on a Sunday night. Missing Camp, but in a positive way. Enjoying and appreciating the new depth and experiences my life holds.
Thanking God that Kenny is alive and Tigers are the Champions!!

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