Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Hi....greetings from Toronto Canada!!!...at my desk, my trusty MAC computer, high speed, a second or two to get to this site!
Outside, grey, wet, coldish...my studio tables littered with piles - a roomful of bills, budgets, stacks of photos, cameras, film, books, Art Retreat registrations, slower this year but building steadily...summer clothes, winter clothes, passport, yellow fever cards, Masai tribal necklaces of red, yellow, green beads, wooden carved giraffes and zerbra, Masai blankets, sandles, snowboots, my bike.
Home since Friday. A grueling 6 hours shuttle lurching all the way up from Arusha to Nairobi on a temporary road pitted with deep gullies, stones, rocks, the new smooth one soon to be finished 100 yards away.. OUtside stunning mossy green mountains flanked by bare naked brown hills and valleys, goats and cows running down the road, a few giraffe and zebra wandering about....Dusty mud hut, stick and corregated metal Masai villages, open air markets, a blaze of colour, men and women draped in red/ blue and purple, little kids running barefoot in the dust, chickens, goats, an old man sits on a tire waiting....A young sound documentary filmmaker from Uganda in cool sunglasses looking like he doesn't have a care in the world, making his way up to Nairobi for health tests. He's open, wondering, I ask about HIV AIDS, he's been tested, it's not that. One hour to the airport and in front of us a dilapidated truck with a couple of guys on the roof stopped, blocking the road. You can't go forward or backward - I'm boarding in an hour, and we are trapped. The driver is great....he's got two wives and six kids and make $5. a day driving this bus six hours every day, sometimes twelve. It's all the same. $5. He jumps out and hand signals all the cars behind us to back up...and they do, everyone now doing three point turns with a gully on one side, it is scary, and now our turn. Amazingly he turns around the bus, we head at breakneck speed bumping along back about 5 minutes to an access road leading toward the new highway....
Across the access are three big boulders, clearly a sign to not access. He winds down the window and honks the horn. Three guys appear out of the bushes - he's digging into his wallet leafing through a stack of Kenyan notes, doles them out, the rocks are rolled out of sight and we shoot off to the airport in time. 8 hours to Amsterdam, can't sleep, arrival 5 am with Merit and Dominique waiting with my winter clothes, outside, cold, dark and grey....clearly, not Africa.
Seanna and Sierra arrive from Kili a few hours later, a great breakfast and i'm doing things i do when i get home..four hours to go i head for the hairdresser, like any normal WEstern girl, the changling begins....8 hours in the air to Toronto. The two very old museum quality masks i bought heading out of Mto WA Mbu, loosely wrapped in ripping black plastic bags bundled together. One for Lindsey who is pregnant, a fertility mask to be worn by her husband over his chest and belly, ancient cracking wood and leather rounded out into full breasts and big lovely round belly, as a sympathy thing....the second one for Johnny, an ancient African face from Congo....hiding them in my arms and under my coat across the world until Toronto where they were confiscated at customs to be inspected for bugs, disease....again, clearly not Africa.
The night before we left, a celebration and fairwell dinner at Pambazuko...all 14 kids moved into their new house - with Elias, Tabea, Martha, six brand new matresses with plastic covers thrown on the floor the kids jumping with glee....new bunk beds dismantled and stored in the bedrooms, boxes and piles of clothing, shoes, kitchen things....the place was a jungle, lit by two keroscene lanterns and glowing candles, one one big table and two benches, crowded with children. Tabea had somehow fodund the time to make rice, beans, samosa, bananas, plantain...plastic bowls, pots and dishes covering the table with kids everywhere, crashed on the matresses, lying flat out sleeping on the benches, sitting on our knees. Elias makes a lovely welcoming prayer and wishes for our safe return next year, to visit once again.
It is late, the move took all day, darkness overwhelming, we are all tired but we can't say goodbye.
My little guys Zack, Justin, Safoni...13 down to 9...gather round close now, the days of swimming now coming to an end. i reach down and hold them one by one, their little hearts breaking, mine too, the pain and sadness of leaving now too much for us all...Across the room, M is bawling in Seanna's arms. She's a bright little four year old, with huge eye and a big toothy smile, diagnosed with HIV AIDS positive a year ago at the 'bad' place, untreated, malnourished, and coming from a family where her father chopped off both arms of her mother at the elbow when he discovered her positive status, never once owning that he was responsible. Her father walked out, the mother died and M was brought to the 'bad' place.
One year later, 14 of those kids relocated to Pambazuko, thanks to a great team of European donors, and the loving and caring mama and baba of Elias and Tabea....it is astonishing the change. The children, happy, healthy, well fed and well nourished...no more oozing AIDS liasions. But here, on this last night of saying goodbye also to Seanna and Sierra and their art classes, singing, loving attention, all breaking down. Elias finally told me get a grip, be strong Lynn, you have to get up and go...our truck pulls away with all of them standing outside on the porch wailing, this first night of their new home....
I am thinking this is a good thing. These kids still are able to feel deep emotion, in spite of what they have endured. Tomorrow i know, is another day for them, up with the sun in a beautiful new space, they will forget and feel happy again.
Saying goodbye, it is always so sad...Majengo was hard too, to leave that so newly formed beautiful place, the sun pouring in onto yellow walls, gleaming tiled floor and saying goodbye to Killo, Martha, Grayson, Witness, the cooks, and finally Glory the teacher, hiding away outside not wanting to say goodby, a deep quiet woman with a huge heart - also doubling up as our matron who teaches the little ones all day and then all night, curling up on the lower bunk with little Pendo safely in her arms...These people who i didn't know two months ago - they are doing so much for the children, they care so much...i leave this place knowing that these kids are in great hands. Our work is done. Now they take over and like parents all around the world their work never ends, everyday, every night, week, months for the year to come. Breakfast, tea, lunches, dinners, school, sheets, towels, cleaning floors and tables and little bodies....pre school, primary school, secondary school, uniforms and shoes that fit twice a year, rice, maize, bananas, greens, milk, meat three times a week, eggs once in awhile but the white part only, the yellow makes little people sick...maintainance, fixing broken bed slats and plumbing, the pantry door still on order, bulk food locked up and kept theft free in Glory's matron room, and watering 120 little budding bouganvillea plants twice a day - Charles tells me that fence of flowers will be eight feet high and thick in six months climbing up and covering well constructed barbed wire fencing all around the grounds, with trees, flowers, grasses.
Malaria, HIV AIDS testing.....general checkups....and three kids crashed sleeping and sick in the next room, the rest outside jumping up and down learning to skip with the new ropes Matt and his friends brought over. /The village leaders stop by to say goodbye, Mayunga's grandfather died that morning he tells me sadly as he gets onto his bike and rides away.
It is huge this slice, with living breathing beautiful little people.....leaving is hard, yet i know i am coming back in 10 months. I live here and there. And love both. They come together...
Next Thursday...Warren Pennsylvania...
Here, in the real world I pinch myself. Did that really happen?
Thank you to everyone from that part of the world, for the clothing, the shoes, the little t shirts and shorts and Osh Kosh,
pencils, ABC charts, and I23....world map, how to tell the time..it is all there. Computers, flash disks, binders and three hole punch, projector, tape, pens, rulers and erasers.....six huge duffle bags well marked, tumbed on the top of Charles red pick up less than a month ago. Wow! Did this really happen?
I can't wait to meet you all who made that happen!!
See you next week!