I've said it before and I'll say it again-my god Africa is a continent of contradictions! And they really mess with my head!
So last night Chris and I gave a short yet lovely recital to some ex pats music lovers held at a beautiful house. They were all very kind and really enjoyed the evening. It was great to meet them all. They all drove home in various 4x4's to their hopefully well earned bigs houses with all the trimmings. Nothing wrong with that picture. They were good, kind people who gave generously to the charity kidzcaretanzania. But today as we visited the ever generous Leonard at his very humble home I can't help but struggle with it all.
On Friday he asked us to please visit his house. We were totally honoured and we really didn't know what to expect. He built his 3 roomed house himself 10 years ago. After meeting us some way off he jumped in the car and directed us quite a way away to his village and his tiny home.
For anyone who has been to my house - the main room was just a little larger than my lounge. Then off that room separated by curtains were 2 small bedrooms, each half the size of the main room. He lives there with his wife and daughter 20yrs, son 14 yrs, twin boys 10 yrs and twin boys again 6 yrs!
Yep 2 sets of twins! The 10 year olds both have sickle cell which is an added stress and expense. I felt dreadfully sorry for his daughter Susan who aged 20 has to share a minute bedroom with 5 younger brothers. Can any of you imagine our little darlings doing that?!
One other thing I noticed was that there were no toys in sight. Nothing at all. We'd brought with us a football, fizzbee and a few cuddly toys ( that they went to give back to us as we left, not taking for granted that they were a gift). But it wasn't enough, I wish I'd brought more. Every day he sees me handing out colouring stuff, puzzles and teddies etc to the kids on the ward and I know he's genuinely pleased they are receiving these things even when his own children have nothing like this at home.
I've just put together a bag of what I have left for them all and I'll give it to him tomorrow.
Chris drove away from the visit on quite a high and feeling really pleased we'd gone. It was obviouse Leonard was so delighted to have had us visit. He kept saying this is a wonderful day and how they had been waiting all day for us to arrive. We'd made their day!
I couldn't help but feel a little down as we left. I can't put my finger on it. His children were incredibly happy kids. Leonard and his wife are obviously wonderful parents. He's working so hard to give them everything they really need. But it just all doesn't sit right with me. The haves and the have nots. We all could have been born into such different lives-it's just luck isn't it? The roll your dice has taken. It's just something I can't ignore.
For people like Leonard, one of life's utter angels who every day make a difference to the lives of those around him-I just believe he deserves more. And above all I hope he realises how valued he is.
Leonard and his home. Herbie playing footy immediately with his boys.