A day in paradise…

Woo hoo! Today is a rest day, a day of relaxation and catching up on sleep. I have found it quite a shock that here in Mozambique they work on the sun clock rather than the time clock. So because the sun is up at 5am, so are the people, and the day starts a whole lot earlier than I am used to! So a day of not very much was going to be good.

A morning swim in a tropical paradise.....don't mind if I do!

It started with a trip to the local market so that Lisa and I could support the local economy buying alsorts of traditional and local products – well it seemed rude not to! Then we headed to the beach. Pemba is an up and coming tourist trap with Wimby Beach being the hot spot for all tourists wanting a beach encounter. It is well catered by a couple of restaurants complete with beach chairs and palm sun shades. The sand is golden and fine and the water turquoise and clear. After a delicious seafood kebab and an ice-cold drink, I could resist the water no longer and went for a refreshing swim.

After I had come back to dry land and was happily reclining under an umbrella with Lisa, I looked out at the tropical scene before me. And then I thought of all the sights and sounds of the previous few days – starving people, children dressed in rags, people with severe deformities as a result of their leprosy, such poverty and suffering. And here I was in paradise. How could this be the same place? How could there be such luxury so close to such poverty?

It would be easy and perhaps a natural response for me to feel guilty. To feel bad that I’m enjoying such luxuries when people I met hours ago are struggling to survive. To want to stop eating all I have because others have nothing. To resent the fact that I luckily grew up in a wealthy Western country with so many advantages in life, because others were not so lucky. To deny where I come from and give it all up – my relative wealth, possessions, education, privilege etc in order to feel better about myself and more equal to those I’ve met living in poverty.

But to do those things is to reject the gift that I have from God – the gift of being born with a head start. It is to deny all that he has given me and all that I have subsequently achieved and experienced. So perhaps it is about acknowledging the problems there are around the world and seeing the inequality, but not being trapped in a state of inactivity by guilt. But instead it is good to take time to celebrate and enjoy all that we have been given, before using these things to help those without. Just as Pemba is using its tropical beauty to bring investment and a rise in the standard of life to the community, then so we should see own our beauty and how we can positively impact the world because of it.

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‘I have nothing to offer but thank you for your love’

Life expectancy is low in Niger and, unlike the UK, the population is booming as a result of the birth rate as opposed to our growing elderly population.  Everywhere you look there are children racing around, smiling, playing football and exuding health and happiness.  Yet healthcare is poor in Niger and parents of these joyous youngsters know that each rainy season (beginning in June) their children are likely to be struck down with malaria or taken from them anytime as a result of a poverty-related disease.  Hospitals tend to be viewed as places to go to die as opposed to recover. 

Outside church in Danja
Outside church in Danja

But not at CSL Danja Hospital run by the Society of Missionaries (SIM) with its leprosy services – the only specialist unit in Niger – funded by The Leprosy Mission.  Its reputation proceeds it with leprosy-affected people travelling the length and breadth of the country, and from neighbouring Nigeria, for treatment.  This morning we went to church in Danja which was a lively and uplifting affair.  It was the second time we’d experienced church African-style and our memories of a vibrant and happy worship served us correctly.  People affected by leprosy who had received care at the hospital praised God alongside staff and members of the local community.  Trainee anaesthetist at the hospital and church secretary Nouhou Maouné translates the words of the songs in the local language of Hausa as ‘I have nothing to offer you but thank you for your love.’

Charlotte Orson/Rosalyn Palmer Sunday 27 April 2012

Arrived safely in Niamey: brought rain

Well, a few drops of rain but Bunmi was pleased as they had not seen any for almost a month.  An hour later our building – the guest house at the Care Children’s Hospital – was engulfed in a sandstorm.  Charlotte advises that sandstorms and contact lenses do not mix well! Also in the guest house is Angelika from TLM DR Congo who is visiting Niger for two months.  It is wonderful to speak with people who give all their life to our work and live amongst the nations in which they serve. 

Tomorrow we are being picked up by the pilot of our three seater plane that will fly us to Danja.  We are excited at the prospect of meeting June Leach and the patients of Danja Hospital in the upcoming days.  Our notebooks are at the ready!

Blessings from Rosalyn and Charlotte 🙂