Long you live and high you fly

And smiles you"ll give and tears you"ll cry

And all you touch and all you see

Is all your life will ever be

Τρίτη, 6 Δεκεμβρίου 2011

A day with Patrick and his family, Bewenda village, Uganda (english)

Bewenda, one of the six villages of the Kyekidde Parish in south Uganda, is a community hidden behind tall grasses and green plantains along muddy roads and corn fields. Mud huts are clustered together while wisps of smoke drifts through thatched roofs from cooking fires. People wander through the wattle and daub sprawl, clutching cups and hoes, children run in the mud and groups of young girls carry firewood on their heads.

In front of a small mud-and-wattle 2 roomed hut, Patrick helps his 10 year old grandson to carry a 12 lt yellow can of water. A few chickens pick dried corn seeds from the ground and 2 young girls wash clothes in the back yard. Children dressed in rags, stare at me as I approach the small house.

Patrick welcomed me with joy, shook my hand and offered me a wooden chair. He had a tired face,  kind eyes and a warm smile. His wife Alice came to join us and soon a band of barefoot children gathered around us. We all sat under a giant accacia bearing small white and yellow flowers.
Patrick and Alice raise their ten underaged grandchildren that live with them. Their 2 eldest daugthers died 3 years ago from HIV and one of their sons is disabled, leaving the burden of taking care of his children to his parents.  The family struggles to survive as there is not enough food. Meat is a luxury beyond the family's reach and their staple is a maize porridge that they can afford only once per day. Their only income comes from 2 cows and a small plot in which Patrick has planted potatoes.  Though they are able to send 4 of the children at school, the others stay at home for lack of money to pay uniforms, books and shoes. The children have to walk 2 Km every morning to fetch water and firewood and often they go to school with an empty stomach.

Despite the many challenges that the family faces, Patrick does not despair.  With his little savings he managed to buy a sewing machine for his oldest granddaughter hoping that she will manage to generate some income for the family. As it is the case of most rural Africans, his life is a continuing struggle for survival, without any safety net if things go wrong.
But life is not always about sadness and despair... Patrick points at the young children around him, his pride and his hope for the future. He dreams a better life for them and education for all.  He is willing to work even harder to achieve that.
Patrick is not a victim and he needs neither pity nor charity. What he needs is an opportunity.....
As I was about to leave the house , I asked Patrick if there is something they need and  I could offer it to them.   His answer surprised me: sugar, he said, sugar and a bar of soap….

* For a version of the story in Greek click here

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