For New Years, Dave (My fellow volunteer, surrogate father, and good friend) and I were invited to spend the holiday with some American Doctors in a small town an hour from Bonga. Twice a week, the doctors go on outreach programs and vaccinate and care for the poor subsistence tribes that live in remote locations. I was really excited to help out where I could.
Chiri is possibly more beautiful than Bonga. The residences of the Doctors are resort-like with hot showers, full kitchens, and incredible views of the jungle. Also, they have hot showers. We spent our time with Andrew, Faith and their two kids. Alea, 3 is my newest friend, a kid too hilariously cute for words.
Andrew is a former Peace Corps volunteer and runs the business side of the Hospital. To me, it seems like he is living an incredible life. As a volunteer, he is living in a beautiful compound in the mountains of a jungle doing rewarding work with his wife, a horse, two other young couples, and his awesome little kids. That has to be a better life than most 28 year olds have back in the states. Maybe I will take over for him one day.
Unfortunately, the outreach program that day got cancelled. Instead we toured their orphanage, helped build a tree house/guard house, and worked on digging a giant pit to throw away syringes in. It felt good to work outside again. I also got some great ideas for the orphanage I hope to start here in Bonga. That evening Faith cooked an amazing meal, we played Settlers of Cataan, (an amazing board game for dorks) and took their pregnant horse for a ride. It felt like family. I want a horse.
Reality kicked me in the face the next morning. I toured the hospital, seeing malnourished kids and others so close to death made all those “Christian Childrens Fund” commercials a reality. Then, the large commotion outside was explained to me. Several miles away, a tree had fallen on two small children. 7 and 8 years old, one boy and one girl, they had been carried in by villagers who must have walked all through the day and possibly night. We got several updates. It wasn’t looking good. One had a chance of making it. The other had massive head trauma. Within the first hour, both had died. The wails and cries from the villagers are what I’ll remember from the first day of 2011.
It was another tough reminder that life here can be less about living than surviving. I hope I can make this, existence, a little more fun for the people here. Perhaps through dum-dums, teaching english and soccer, or just doing something stupid for an easy laugh.