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Letters from Africa

Posted by Maureen Friday, December 15, 2006


About this time last year, I was in the midst of a most intense season of energy, emotion, and obsession with Africa and other places of emergency around the world. That passion seemingly faded by summertime, due to a few different factors that overwhelmed my situation. However, now that life has calmed and gotten back to "normal", my thoughts are once again saturated by this place. I'd like to include now some written words from a few of my most inspirational friends:

From Caroline in Swaziland: "My best friend has a two year old who has an AIDS defining illness. i've known for awhile, but after my workshop and the 3 days of intense HIV lectures by pediatric AIDS Corps doctors i KNOW that Jabulo has AIDS. i had been in a bit of denial before. so, i talked to my best friend, his mom, about it. and... she wants to take him to the clinic to get tested and if he is positive, i told her that i would help her to come to Mbabane (the capital) to go to the only place here that has pediatric HIV doctors. if HIV in children goes untreated, they rarely make it past their 5th birthday. but if Jabulo gets treatment and stays on it successfully, he can live to be a mukhulu (grandfather). i love this kid. will keep you all updated on Jabulo."

From Fletcher in Sudan: "Just to give you a clip of what most of my days here look
like--Yesterday, I drove one of our Landcruiser trucks
down the ever so ridiculous path/road through serious
African bush to the village of Dem Mansuur where we
have an agriculture rehabilitation project. First, it
took a really long time to get everything we needed to
take down (cement, generator, food…) so we started out
kind of late in the day. Along the way we met a broken
down lorry carrying a lot of stuff plus about 50
passengers. We already had a full truck plus it is [Samaritan's Purse]
policy not to pick up people not working with us, so I
had to said no to a guy who wanted us to carry his
wife and children to the next town. Once at the farm,
10 of us picked and bagged vegetables with the sun
setting (most amazing sunsets here--burns bright red
before sinking over the edge of the rest of Sudan) and
then with the aid of truck headlights. We started back
with a truck load of vegetables and peanuts and people
to sell them in the market…with grass fires burning
bright orange along the Ethiopian mountains to the
East…and listening to a soccer game in Arabic…and,
once again, met the broken truck blocking the road.
The guy whom we told no before tried to start a fight
with Mohmud, one of the guys who works with us—so he
grabs a crowbar from behind my seat…and yeah, I had no
idea what was happening…and dang…I need to learn
Arabic…all eventually calmed down and when we arrived
back in Kurmuk we had to report the incident to the
police…thus…it was once again a long wild dirty Africa
day…filled with much beauty and much frustration at
the same time. Somehow, it always does that to me..."

From Nate: "What I found in those 2.5 years of graduate school shocked and angered
me and my developing sense of justice. I learned that power is what
matters on this planet, whether real (as in, we have nukes so get the
hell out of our way) or soft (as in, we have the neatest governmental
system in the world, please emulate). Now this shouldn't have shocked
me, but I think it is the way that power has been abused since the
beginning of recorded history that really stung. And that my country,
the good ole US of A, wasn't as benevolent as I'd believed.
I also learned that thousands of people are dying everyday of poverty -
manifested through starvation and preventable diseases - symptoms that
are preventable in a world that is very rich, and more scientitically,
technologically and logistically advanced than ever. This offended not
only my sense of justice, but my faith, which directs me to love and
serve the poor, the sick, and the outcasts of society."

These words that have come across my computer screen in the past few days, while seemingly nothing new to me, are changing me still. I am impassioned, by everything from news of a visit from the President of Ethiopia to Springfield, MO, or from Bono to ....Kansas City (is it true?!), to the strangely fresh memory of my experiences at back to back U2 concerts this time last year--and most of all, these stories from my friends, many others, and my own experiences in Africa.

Perhaps these words and pictures are what will bring Jesus to me this Christmas. May we not miss it.

Photos by Fletcher Cox, from Kenya.

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