Sunday, April 12, 2009

With two weeks remaining before I return to Canada, my remaining blog postings are likely to be limited (which may be good as mom points out that I have lately been slacking off in this department). This morning, Easter, I am awaiting the arrival of the seven Timbo children from Makeni and am planning food. So far I’ve come up with rice (of course) with deer sauce and 24 eggs. The eggs come from Magburaka and the deer from a woman in a neighbouring village who turned up at my door with it yesterday (deer here are quite small so this one will feed our whole household for a couple of days). Sallay tells me it will make a lovely addition to a cassava leaf sauce. Remembering my last foray into cooking cassava (luckily the only one who would eat my cooking and thus suffer the cyanide poisoning was me), I think I’ll enlist the help of Mabinty in meal preparation today. I also considered simply waiting till the children turn up and asking daughters Kadija and Helen, who do all the cooking at Makeni, to help me but Sallay tells me this would be most rude as today they are my guests. Should be an interesting two days. My visiting friend Norma Jean and I have been discussing the relative merits or not of introducing a few Easter traditions to the children (most of the children are Muslim without any cultural context for our seemingly bizarre “Easter” traditions). We’ve come up with a compromise of simply dying seven of the 24 eggs and serving them for breakfast tomorrow. During the rest of the visit I plan to spend time with the children in food processing (which is how most children spend most of their days here), with kids their age in our household, in the library, and possibly going an outing to the river beach.

Receiving the deer reminded me of the conversation I had yesterday with two of the boys who hang out at my house. We were discussing what they had learned from the school twinning project, leading to their explanation of hunting practices here (the boys had been exchanging hunting and fishing stories with students in Dawson). AKT and Alpha explained how the community had come to agree to give up hunting with guns in the post-war period with the encouragement of the UNDP. As part of the disarmament process, the community was supplied with dogs and nets in exchange for guns. Apparently all agreed that this was for the best as traumatized people, still responding in shock to any sound of gunfire, would head for the bush or even suffer heart attacks at the sound of hunters’ guns. Much food for thought as I read news from Canada about debate on gun control. Also feeds my dream of seeing the launch of a worldwide disarmament campaign.

Yesterday Norma Jean and I also headed to Mathombo with the cdpeace staff (on motorbikes) to present a package of letters and amazing art work on peace from students at Parkview, Mathombo’s twin school. During this exchange, Norma Jean conducted a long interview with two of the volunteer teachers who recounted experiences of being in school on the day the rebels attacked and burnt the school, which killed six of the children. Next week we will be witnesses at a ceremony to remember those who died on this day and to hand over a newly constructed school built through the generous donation of several Canadian organizations and individuals (Green Solutions, Newport Sports, etc.). The teachers and students were very grateful to receive the Canadian children’s artwork to showcase during these two historic days. I’m sure there will be a report and photos posted afterwards.

Schools are on holiday now, which is making it easier for me to wrap up last responsibilities and tasks. My “to do” list seems to be endlessly long but I have had moments lately of feeling somewhat in control of it. Having Norma Jean here keeping me in stitches of laughter most of the time helps. Hope to be seeing many of you for shared laughter soon.
Photo by Saidu – Sharing artwork from Parkview School