Monday, 14 April 2008

Loss of a friend

You may not want to read this if you are feeling down.........

Hi All,

Well, my email this week is on a somber note. I think I have mentioned Mama and Baba Sweetie before in my emails. They are a couple devoted to doing good in the community always giving what little they have to help others. Whilst they were displaced from their home in Kampi ya Moto due to the troubles there, they were living with Baba Sweeties Aunt near Lanet, during that time their house was totally ransacked, the windows torn out the tin roof removed, the house trashed. It was a bleak comparison to the home that I had last visited last year. They had planned with my friend Ailsa from Scotland who I met out here in Kenya that they would build a children’s home to cater for all the children orphaned in the community by Aids and other illnesses.

During the past few months they had been unexpected visitors at the drop of a hat they would appear always bringing something with them, a mango, some fish they would share, potatoes and lastly a bag of charcoal for my Jiko stove for when it is cold. Baba Sweetie has always been someone who sees good in everything, opportunity is always round the corner and there is always Gods will being carried out.

When we went out to the ceremony for the wheelchairs, he was in such a state as he was late to pick me up in his Peugeot Pickup (he had been forced to sell all his cattle he had at home when he left Kampi ya Moto in exchange he was given a Peugeot van which drank petrol like no ones business, but he was sure he would get work doing deliveries!). The van had Mama Sweetie, Baba Sweeties Uncle and Aunt and their granddaughter, an old lady and her disabled son together with 6 wheelchairs. I was squeezed in the front with Baba Sweetie, his aunt and her grand-daughter. A little way outside town we ground to a halt, he had run out of fuel. Dressed in his best suit Baba Sweetie with Jerry can in hand flagged down a truck for a ride to town. We waited, and waited and waited, in the distance running like a mad man was Baba Sweetie with full Jerry can in hand sweating buckets. When he got to the car he was so close to tears as he was so embarrassed. I gave him a big hug and told him all was fine we had all sat and had a nice get to know me chat.

Baba Sweetie called me the following Thursday, 10th April, to tell me to buy the Metro paper, he was so excited that Mama Sweetie had appeared in the paper and it was good to see at last that she had been recognized for her good work. At about 6 that evening I received a call from Mama Sweetie telling me that Baba Sweetie had been killed in a road accident leaving Mama Sweetie and 4 children behind.

Life is sometimes so unfair, they were both looking forward to moving back to rebuild their house back into a home and in all that time all they were concerned with was helping other people who were less fortunate than themselves.

I visited Mama Sweetie where she is staying last night, there was a huge gathering of many church elders, friends, family and neighbours. They held a small prayer meeting and discussed the week’s preparations. The Funeral is to be held on Thursday (17th April) and I have been asked to carry out the strange task of photographing the event. Apparently it is as customary as it is to photograph a wedding, even videos are taped. I think this will be a very strange day for me, but I won’t miss it, we have become good friends. The future for the Sweeties has always been looked on as being difficult, I have no idea what it holds for the family now.

The news brought home to me how fragile life is, how at the drop of a hat things can change your life. I still don’t know what has brought me here, not being particularly religious, all I can say is, I feel a greater force is at work.

My love to you all.


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