There is a guy that I met when I first arrived here named Tennes. We bought over a hundred desks and chairs that were handmade by him in his funky little woodworking yard, in an area called Kalingalinga. I really liked him after the first minute that I knew him. A good business person, very personable, great smile, can remember a measurement from two months ago….just a really good guy. Recently, I have had a job with him, where he was supplying some boards for benches that the metal shop is making for the village. At one point, we received a bunch of “bad” quality boards, so I went and met with him to see how we could resolve it. He didn’t look good at the time and told me he wasn’t feeling well. Well, things dragged out and the boards issue wasn’t getting resolved. I went to talk with him again and he wasn’t around, but sent me a text that he had to use all of my money on medicines and that he was really sorry. I experienced two responses. 1) how serious is this illness? Is it now life threatening and, 2) you have all the money plus the rejected boards and there is no one else to resolve this with. I wish I could say my only concern was for his well being, but I struggled with both aspects of the situation.
The statistics vary, but let’s just settle for 1 in 7 people between 18 and 45 years of age are infected with HIV. You are driving along, turn the corner, there’s seven people walking along the street….one is probably infected. My apartment building, 8 units, 16 adults…..2 are probably infected. My street, 15 apartment buildings….30 people infected. A walk thru the mall, say 2000 people, 285 infected. It’s staggering and it is a constant source for aid funding, education, grief, corruption, drain on medical resources and on and on.
But today, it was not one in seven…..
It was one of my friends
He leaves behind a wife and four children…one a little girl that he named after a former VSO volunteer. Her name is Jeanette – she is only a few months old.
I am very saddened by this, but let me end on a “somewhat” lighter note…..unless you are the subjects of this story. Jeanette recently returned to Africa, and after a stop by our village, she went up to Tanzania to do some research for some studies that she is undertaking at Stanford. I will try to copy one of her facebook posts….it’s a true story!!
Latest tales from the village – big town meeting happening next door to resolve a conflict between 2 of the church choirs. The small choir wants the big choir’s organist to play with them. The big choir says no. Small choir has suggested that they will chop the organist to pieces with a panga (aka machete) if the big choir refuses. I think the organist might be feeling a little nervous right now. Yep, time to get outta this village.
And finally, a few photos from our boy’s football tournament a couple of weeks ago. I stopped by the village for something and said, “hey, if anyone wants to go to the boys football match, jump in the Hilux” I should have made it “by invitation only”. TWENTY kids jumped in to the truck….how are you going to kick anyone out?
Oh, and one LAST (I mean really last this time) little bit. Ilene is currently in the northern part of Zambia, right along the DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo) on a selection trip of new students for next year. They are at a refugee camp, interviewing kids, testing them academically (I better have spelled that right!) and doing home visits. From the short texts that I have received from her, it ain’t no vacation beach in Hawaii, but I bet it will be a very amazing experience none the less. I am quite jealous and happy for her.
Her longtime friend, Janet, is coming to visit for a couple of weeks on Friday. We are very excited for this and Ilene is downright “Giddy”