Africa, the land of hope

I love Africa, Madelyn says as she lays quietly on the blanket outdoors. I brought her outside for fresh air, near the poinsettia tree. She spent a few hours vomitting and tummy cramping during the night. She woke listless, hot and dry heaving. We’re not sure what brought on this illness, but it is afternoon now and she is sipping water and even tried a roll kuchen.

I spent an hour washing morning and lunch dishes ever-so-slowly, trying to accurately rinse them cleanly without using water. We were brought a 20 litre pail of rainwater last night as no water is available for a few houses. Seems wrong that my sprinkler system is watering my lawn back home when the taps run dry here.  Here it rains every evening after 5. Kamloops it rains, well, it doesn’t rain much at all, being semi-arid grassland; but my Kamloops lawn is green.

On our way up to Kapsowar, at 8000 feet, we passed the Kenyan running track; the one where the Olympic Kenyan runners practice. I wrapped my skirt in a knot and took a jog around the field outside our home, each lap stopping to catch my breath. I remembered I was diagnosed with asthma once upon a time. With the high altitude I was done after twenty minutes. Laura Rhodes, wife of the plastic surgeon, takes hour long jogs up and down the hills. I am in awe.

I have long since claimed myself as one of the last North Americans without a cell phone. I might change that to the last person in the world. Agnes, our house helper, was sharing that I might be surprised visiting her home that she doesn’t wash the floor with soapy water, she spreads cow dung instead. The mama with babe strapped on her back walking an hour to town, the fellow on the motorcycle who stops in the middle of the road, and Agnes too, all have cell phones. This is not going to change my mind, of course, but I recognize I am unusual.

I’ve learned to stop smiling and saying habari to everyone I meet on the walk to market. Agnes says that they’re strangers; we don’t talk to all strangers. I’m just so thrilled to be here! I always have a reason to walk to market. Mangoes are in season and only twenty cents each. Jim looked for the ORANGE sign to update our internet stick. I bought seed beans for multiplication manipulatives. We bought more toothbrushes. Jim says, we stand out like solar flares in the middle of night. Yup.

We stopped at the photocopying kiosk, or six-by-four shed, for reprints of the Africa, Land of Hope book. We’ll label the Africa map with country names on Monday morning. On the wall was a poster worth photographing–encouraging us to be on our knees when in need of help, so we may have hope. Despite the troubles we’re unaccustomed to in North America, typical troubles in Africa, like regular water shortages and nutrition inadequacies, the people are generous and eager to pray for help– it feels like a land of hope.


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