Wednesday, August 18, 2010

We're here for a short visit

"Strange is our situation here upon earth.  Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes  seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know.  That we are here for the sake of others... for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected... by a bond of sympathy."

Einstein's oft quoted declaration points to what so many of us fear about ourselves; that perhaps we're selfish and deliberately blind to the condition of our fellow man.

Could it be that we that we complain about our "rich man's problems" such as our supermarket's lack of good avocados or the rising cost of a good education? Then we neither feel nor say anything about our brother in Pakistan who lost everything in the flood last week. He lost his home, his livelyhood, his wife and children. Or how about the African father who weeps because his children are undernourished and he has no power to feed them better? 
Kids in Africa; their community has adopted us and made us part of their
family.  They've taught us so much over the years.

"We are not in control.  We can't change things," one sweet friend said to me yesterday. Actually, she does change things. Although confined to a wheelchair, she travels with a group to Africa every year accompanying a shipment of things that help communities there. They work all year, collecting goods, then they go to the most difficult places and live in the communities, teaching and helping and dispensing love unconditionally. :) She and her friends are on my short list of heroes.

"Estranha é nossa situação aqui na Terra. Cada um de nós vem para uma curta visita, sem saber porquê, mas às vezes parecendo um propósito divino. Do ponto de vista da vida cotidiana, porém, há uma coisa nós sabemos: que estamos aqui para o bem dos outros ... pelas incontáveis almas desconhecidas com cujo destino estamos ligados ... por um vínculo de simpatia."  Homemade World

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

AUG '10 - Back in Africa

In country for a couple of weeks work, I made time at the end of the day to visit friends.  Just a few minutes from my work site, this is the first family I met here back in '07.  Poppa shows me the site for his daughter and son-in-law's new house.  My Portuguese remains inadequate, but I think he said they were just married this year.

It will be a simple home, perhaps 300 sq ft.  Water is available less than 10 minutes away.  Having family nearby is a big deal, of course.   In the collage left, the young couple carries wood from the sawmill for the project.
Click on the picture to go to a more detailed narrative.
On the right, below, Poppa's youngest and my first friend in Africa (and our fourth grade scholar) enjoys summer vacation.  School starts in October here.  She's been making good grades all along and actually enjoys school.

We're tied to five families here now with twelve or so of their children in school.  This last school year went well and all of our kids passed on to the next grade.  Our oldest boy passed the critical sixth grade standard achievement test, which is quite a big deal.  It means he gets to go on the the 7th grade.  The test has about a 70% failure rate marking the end of education for most.  The next big hurdle is at the end of the 9th grade.  Only a few children go on to finish high school.

Aug 26, 2010
From various places on various days, here are some photos of Sao Tome; a little scenery to go with the pictures of kids and friends.

Click on the thumbnail above to see the large format photos.

With photos from our time together a few months ago (photo, right) and some books from Lisbon, my friends here are part of a large family of fine folks.  Grandma adopted me awhile back and the rest of the family has made a place for me.  Books in Portuguese are an appreciated gift; there's no outlet in the country where they can buy new books and the libraries are minimally helpful.  Most manufactured goods come by plane or ship to this isolated country.