Seasons come and go

Den_breejen_2011 Posted by Aart and Geesje den Breejen on Fri, 22 Jun 2012 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

In Madi West Nile, Mango season is over now, so Arua’s ‘Mango Ward’ will once again become ‘Senke Ward’. Senke is the main manufacturer of the bodo bodas (motorcycle taxis) that are involved in so many accidents here – hence the local name of the surgical ward. But the last couple of months saw a surge in patients from a different type of accident – falling out of Mango trees! Many beds on male surgical ward were occupied with fractures, concussions and worse.

It was not long ago that Aart was admitted at the hospital. We then had the luxury of a private room. Private or not, cockroaches, mosquitoes entered none the less. A cousin of our watchman was not so blessed to reach the hospital, he did not survive the fall out of the mango tree and the watchman had to attend yet another funeral.

Funerals consume a lot of time and resources here in West Nile. Hundreds of guests need to be fed. Not showing up at a funeral of someone you are even slightly related to, and contributing to the event with labour and/or money can cause problems. It means you can then count on nobody showing you respect when it’s your turn. Which in turn might cause a problem for your life ever after is the belief…

Culture is deep – no matter whether you confess to be a Christian, you make sure you fulfil the duties that are expected of you in the society. On top of all the old traditions people even add more costs – a grave that is cemented is the new thing nowadays for “big people”. On the one hand, it’s a status symbol, on the other hand, many people believe that it’s a way to make sure the body (and soul) is not disturbed or taken away.

Elize, our Dutch home schooling volunteer was asked to share with the Primary Six children here about funerals in the Netherlands. No big meals? How terrible! For once the kids were all happy to live in Arua and not somewhere in the west.

Yesterday evening, I was talking with our watchman. He was cutting designs for Arua Home Crafts handmade cards from locally available material. A great way for a group of local people to use creativity for income. However, the income he earns with card making of late is mainly used for his contributions to funerals. The idea of the Craft Programme is to save up the income in personal accounts to have something for later, but in reality it is used for day to day life, with ‘funerals’ being a major debit column…and more costs besides. He married a second wife, lost a child with her, his four other children need school fees, wife number one wants a tailoring course…and so the list goes on.

It’s easy for me to say how staff should use their money but of course, it’s not my business. I’m aware that many local friends have many challenges that most westerners simply don’t face as there are different types of Insurances and many other back-ups that help you out when you can’t make ends meet. I’m not saying that people in the west do not have to make difficult choices and people here always make the right choices. I know that we all have to live with the consequences of our choices. All I want to say is that it is very easy for me to only judge our neighbours without being a real help. I simply pray again that God will help me to serve Him day by day and to be there for others.

Thanks for reading this. As always, your interest in our work and life here in Arua is appreciated.

Geesje and the rest

Aart and Geesje den Breejen

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