Wednesday, a day of mixed emotion! We’d set off mid-morning to our first meeting place. We soon discovered that the track, it wouldn’t qualify as a road, that ran in, out and around the homesteads had been badly flood damaged too. The pick-up truck had to cope with ridiculous angles and several times I thought we were going to tip over! I felt very sorry for Mike and Bosco who were travelling in the back with the mosquito nets as they couldn’t see where we were going so wouldn’t have been able to prepare themselves for the twists and turns and ridiculous angles I put the pick-up through! At one point I thought we had had it when, at about half way to our destination I made a wrong decision and got stuck in the mud! The pick-up wouldn’t go forwards or backwards and there was a distinct smell of burning when I tried. So out jumped the brothers in their best outfits to try and push me out but with no success. The two left tyres were actually off the ground! Then out of the bushes came children carrying babies, ladies in traditional dress and then young men who for a while just watched the scene. Then gradually offers and ideas to help us came forward with hoes, stones, branches off trees and sheer strength and eventually the pick-up was freed. I was so relieved!
There was no one around when we arrived at a school playing field, the location Paul had agreed with the community. But it didn’t take long for the message to get round and for one person to appear, then another, then another. Soon Bosco had started his health checks while I was really just a spectator greeting the people and taking photos which I was pleased at as I had started to feel unwell again (the heat and possibly the reaction to the stressful drive there!) There was a lovely atmosphere lots of chatting and laughing. It’s at times like this I wish I could speak their language so I could share completely. One thing the boys did share with me when I asked why everyone was laughing was that someone had commented that I had the voice from the phone that says ‘Sorry, number unavailable. Please try later’!
It had been going very well, as to our plan when everything changed in the blink of an eye. I was taking photos when I heard a man shouting what could only be abuse at Paul then others started shouting. This man then seemed to rip a mosquito net from Paul’s hands! This man already had two which is what his family qualified for. Paul had apparently decided to give the spare ones to people who had come for the check up but were not on the original list, just one per person. Another man tried to get the net off the first man and it became a tug of war, the net being the rope! Well I just saw red and approached this man head on as he was trying to run off. He wouldn’t have spoken any English but I shouted at him regardless, and indicated to take the net back finding myself eye to eye with him at one point, but found there was no fear on my part. I think it was rather a shock to him that a Mzungu woman could act that way! I must admit I was quite surprised too and still wonder how I moved so fast!! It was quite weird how well I felt afterwards, my energy returning. Must have been the adrenaline!
This one incident could have spoilt the whole day and I think for Paul it did in a way, as for a long time afterwards he looked worried wondering how he could have managed the situation better. Later on when we had eventually got back to the family homestead, they had had something to eat and I had had a rest, the four of us Mike, Bosco, Paul and I sat down and talked it through. We all came to the conclusion that there was nothing Paul could have or needed to have done different and that there are greedy rude people like the man everywhere!
We’ve had a big storm with torrential rain so I’m getting rather concerned about the drive home to Innocents tomorrow. The road had been bad enough coming without the added problem of the road being wet or even flooded again! I’ll let you know!