Saturday I visited New Hope Orphanage, which sends 20 children to Kings School. New Hope is home for 62 children and 12 Mma's. All are victims of the ongoing violence in Congo. I wasn't sure what to expect from my visit. What I got was yet another mind-blowing experience. Women and children who have fled a war torn, poverty stricken country, to fragile safety of their neighbours. Burundi has so little offer, yet it offers sanctuary and relative security to refugees. The children of New Hope have next to nothing materially, but offered so much to us spiritually and emotionally. As I walked around their home, the poverty was so apparent, yet it seemed to have very little bearing on their attitude to life. Another humbling experience. More to mull over and think about, next time I'm whining about lunch being rice and peas or ugali and cabbage!
Just to make the situation completely mind boggling, I went straight from New Hope to one of the classiest Hotels by the lake (Club du Lac) and spent the afternoon, 'by the pool'. (actually playing Boggle at one point!
To complete my round of imcompatable events to fit in your head. The evening was spent going to the movies! Eating curry, watching The Princess Bride on a massive screen (wall) from a projector. Perhap the most incredible part of the evening was the fact that it was the first time I have ever seen The Princess Bride. There was a real sense of incredulity that someone of my age could possibly have never seen such an iconic film.............................. hmmmmmmm! I think I was a bit tied up having babies when it was released.
Moving on........ today, my big achievement. Posting a letter home. So why is this a big achievement? It means going on the bus into town. I'm actually getting pretty good at 'going on the bus' now. I hardly break out in a sweat or anything. I can even make my own mind up about where to sit. Having graduated from quivering heap, who had to be guided to the correct seat. And I don't even flinch if I land up almost on the next person's lap with a strangers arm wrapped around my shoulders. Still not sure I will ever be able to travel on the bus by myself. But time will tell. Back to the big achievement, part 2. Going into the Central market. I would so love to catch it on camera, but it would be desperately unwise and unfair for me to get a camera out in there. One of my biggest dreams is that someone will come from home and I can show them this place. It is packed with people, buying, selling, begging, mouching around. Every other person you pass makes some comment about the mzungus. Most people are just suprised to see white people in this place. Part 2 involves buying envelopes. This was done relatively simply, with very little negotiation as the price asked was not unreasonable. Part 3, walk to the Post Office, purchase stamps and post letter. Hardest part of part 3, applying liquid to the back of the stamps without using 'lick'. Basic rule: Never ever 'lick' anything in Burundi, that has been touched by human hands.
Having bused into town the decision was made to walk back home. Reward - my first view of the Weaver bird, nesting. Underneath the trees there were a number of old nests. So in true Primary school teacher style, Rachel and I both picked one up to take back to show the children in school. This seemed to cause great interest and amusement to all the groups of Burundians that we passed. Two mzungus, carrying birds nests down the road. It was beyond our language skills to understand what most of them were saying. But we clearly brought some joy to quite a number of people!
I am sooooo proud of this photo. Two Weaver birds at their nests. When I grow up, I'm going to be a photographer.
So finally, let me end with this thought. Burundi supplies me with a constant stream of challenges, privileges and awesome experiences to run through my head. But I think this guy has got a real load on his mind.......................!!