Let me paint you the scenario. Matthew and I hadn’t washed since Thursday and, after our game of football yesterday we were really looking forward to a freezing cold shower this morning. However, upon waking at 5.30 this morning it was made abruptly clear that no such shower would be taking place today. “Sorry to tell you boys but the electricity’s gone off.” What an excellent start to the day that was. It seemed the facial wipes were to be used once again. Along with half a can of deodorant. Feeling fresh.
On the agenda this morning was two masses. One in the Seminary where we were staying and the other was in the local Parish. The latter was to be spoken in Chitumbuka, the local language. The mass in the Seminary was an hour and a half while the second was two and a half. It was strenuous to say the least. However the services over here are so much more joyful and interactive than our own: there’s singing and dancing and processions of women and children dancing up and down the aisles with great joy and appreciation. We should do things like that, if only we had the enthusiasm.
After a lunch with the priests, consisting of mashed potatoes, goat, chicken and a desert of bread pudding we headed off to the safari. I felt like I was in the lion king (minus Simba). After spending the full afternoon at the safari where we saw monkeys, hippos, impalas and elephants we headed back to a village near the Seminary. An experience I will never forget.
We arrived into this village at 6.30 in complete darkness and, as we got off the bus, all of the village children were laughing and cheering at our presence, they were so happy to see us. We were then escorted into the middle of the village where, under a tree were 13 chairs all neatly lined up for us. Upon sitting down I noticed the whole village, besides the chief and other leaders were all sitting on the cold hard ground. This was women and young children. They were the ones who deserved the chairs, not us. At that moment it was clear that none of us could understand what it was that made us so special, that we had chairs and they did not. It didn’t seem right. We were treated like celebrities yet we did nothing to warrant it. A guided tour of the village followed. As we walked from hut to hut seeing people’s homes the children raced around so full of life. Jumping and laughing, play-fighting with each other. Despite having nothing but the clothes on their back their young spirits were sky high. It was a beautiful lesson on life. One of the men proudly showed us his house which was effectively a bricked hut. He was so delighted with what he had, even though it was almost nothing at all. The most harrowing moment was when; with a huge grin on his face he proudly showed us his daughter’s bedroom. Drawing back the curtain we were presented with nothing more than a hole in the wall. A two metre squared hole in the wall. These people are so overjoyed with what little they have. Our experience in the village made everyone reflect on life during the quiet bus journey home. It made us realise how lucky we really are and how much we take for granted. It’s mere luck that separates from us from being born into a developed country or an under-developed country and yet some people don’t understand how lucky they really are. It’s not their fault though. It wasn’t until we travelled a few thousand miles before we were able to properly re-evaluate everything we know and love. For the rest of the night everyone had unanimously accepted that our forty-five minute visit to a local village not five minutes from where we staying had completely transformed us for life. To see those kids, the kids who have nothing. And the man, the man who was so proud of his home and everything he had resonate joy and hilarity made me realise something startling. These people have nothing but sing and dance like they have
everything but we in the ‘developed’ and ‘civilised’ part of the world have everything and act like we have nothing.
On the upside, here is the comment of the holiday and a story of what happens when you leave us kids up to our own devices.
– At the end of the night while in our pyjamas, the five children who were staying in the bottom house performed a scene from dirty dancing…….. With Gemma on camera duty and Matthew and Ryan singing “I’ve had the time of my life” in harmony Sarah and I performed, rather expertly might I say, the classic ‘lift’ scene. Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey eat your heart out.
– “I never thought that leaves fell of the trees in Africa” – Jennifer Kelly, during African winter.