Sorry it’s been a few days. I will be playing catch up for a bit, but I’ve got some good stories to share. This story is especially significant for me.
We began moving the city of Kisanga Thursday. When we move people we bring a truck to load everything they have, take it to their new home, give them food for a month, and I believe we even bus them back to harvest their crops from their old home, until their new fields are producing. So, it’s a big project, and we try to think of everything to make life better for these people. In fact, I’ve been told that it’s the largest resettlement program in Africa, ever.
Well, in Kisanga we were watching this family load their truck, and it was hot, there’s a bunch of stuff, and like 50 people are just watching 5 people load this truck. So, being me, and not wanting to just stand around, I went over and started helping them. Not a big deal where we’re from, but I didn’t realize what it meant. This community has only known white people to be the experts, the authority, and as people who don’t stay around for very long. So, when I walked over and started lifting metal sheets into the truck with them, making an effort to help them, one of the few people to do so at that, the whole place went nuts. Everyone around started coming up to help and people were smiling and hollering in Lingala left and right. I found out later that they were saying how amazing it was that a white person would help them (I also found out later that they were saying how they needed to find me a village girl so I could learn Lingala…haha).
To add to all of this, while I was helping, a security guy came over and said that the metal shingles were not allowed to be transported. However, I knew they were, so I told him no, and kept loading. We went back and forth through a translator, and finally he relented and let us continue. When I talked to the guy translating he told me that everyone in the village was shocked that I would help them do manual labor, for absolutely nothing in return, and then defend them against an authority figure when I had nothing at stake.
Thankfully, I wasn’t the first white person to do this. Our CEO had been helping the community last year with a free clinic we set up. He would go and pick up sick kids and carry them to the Dr. himself. It may not sound like much, but after decades of never seeing white people, (Belgians left in the 1960’s), and assuming that we were only there to get gold and get out, it was really awesome to show them that there was more to it than that. That even the head of a huge company would shirk at carrying a kid himself just because they were sick.
When I got back my co-workers said that I was like Chuck Norris. Half of me was beaming with pride, and the other half was incredibly embarrassed, haha.
It’s important to note that I didn’t do anything more than what we would have done in the States, or Sweden (shout out to the family), but little did I know what it meant to them. It was a humbling experience, and I’ve never felt like I mattered as much as I did then. It just goes to show that even the little things we do for other people can have a profound impact, and I’m grateful to have had that chance on Thursday. You all reading and supporting me also has a profound impact. I know we’re busy, and so for you to take time out of your day to show that what I do matters, is very special to me.
Helping them move, you can’t see it, but there are like 20 more little kids helping us load the truck. I’m laughing because of all of the Lingala being thrown about that I don’t understand.
Shaking the security guys hand after I told him to leave the locals be. He was cool about it, thankfully.
Yup, that’s a goat.
It’s like being in West Campus at UT…
Kisanga saying bye to us.