Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Meeting Mama Mary

Along with Grace, I’ve become quite close friends with a girl called Jennica, I think that’s how you spell it. She’s from Vancouver, Canada. I feel sorry for her because she hasn’t been feeling very well ever since she arrived here. I’m not sure whether she’s got a bug, or if it’s just her adapting to a new environment, and possibly a bit of jet lag too. Who knows? I just hope she starts feeling better soon. We share quite a lot in common, and have chatted a lot. We watched Requiem for a Dream last night with some other housemates, I really didn’t enjoy it. It was too full on. We spoke later on about how her Grandma had been sick last year, and I told her about how mine is struggling too.  Her dad makes documentaries. I’ve been filming a bit of what I’ve been doing so far. Well, only just meeting Mama Mary to be honest. But hopefully, I can get a script/plan together, and get some good footage, and once I’m home, make a mini documentary and possibly send it off to a few people.

We went out on Saturday night. It took everybody a while to get ready and I don’t think we left until about half past ten. We went to Empire, which was the bar I was in earlier on in the day watching the football. I know most of the staff there from hanging out so much last year, so it’s always a nice environment for me. There’s a pool table, and there was a crap band playing some crap covers too. Oh well, me and Grace drank a few beers, Jennica didn’t feel well enough to drink. I played a couple of games of pool. It is winner stays on, and there are always quite a lot of guys surrounding, watching, and jeering. It’s always nice beating a local, because all of the others take the piss out of them for getting beaten by a white guy. I got cheated out a couple of games later, and wasn’t too happy about it. But couldn’t be bothered saying anything. I chatted to a girl called Catherine from Boston, and then another from Gurnsey called Becki. There was a Swedish girl there too called Nadia, she’s really cool. I like the way she dressed, and her hair is amazing. We had a couple of tequila shots each, and then I was drunk. We danced for an hour or so. After a few more beers, it was time to call it a night. Grace and I couldn’t be bothered to pay for a taxi so we got on a boda-boda. That’s a motorbike taxi. The company who I’m volunteering for get pretty annoyed when the volunteers use these, they are notoriously a bit sketchy, especially at night. But we got home safe, and had a great time. Then I passed out in bed.

The next day I woke up pretty early, and I was hungover. I headed out to try and sweat it out. I walked to the volunteer house which I stayed in last year, hoping to find Prisca there. She is one of the housemaids who I really liked last year. I bought her some heat packs for her back because it’s always bad. Unfortunately, she wasn’t there. I walked back and got ready to go and meet Cassie before I headed to see Mama Mary. I packed my video camera and got to grips with how it worked. I called Cassie and said I would meet her in town. I met her at friend’s corner, where the Dalla (the public) transport leaves from to go down to Swahilini, which is where they live. I had to wait for about ten or fifteen minutes before Cassie turned up. It’s not a particularly safe area around there, so I kept changing places, and made sure I had my bag against a wall most of the time. It was the first time I had ever met Cassie, we had only previously spoken via Facebook and Skype. She’s a really nice girl, who’s really dedicated to getting things straight at Golgotha. She came along with Shelley, another volunteer at Golgotha, and with another lady called Suzanne. Suzanne is volunteering at a different orphanage, and is staying at a homestay. She wanted to come along, to experience her first home visit, and to get a feel for what I was doing.

It was a bumpy Dalla ride. When we arrived I started to get pretty excited. I arranged with Cassie to do a little video introduction with Mt Meru in the background, just to explain where we were and what we were going to do. We walked towards the house. As we got closer, a couple of the kids recognised me and I could hear ‘teacher Zaci’ coming from all around. I was worried that some of them would run to Mama Mary and tell her I was coming, which would ruin the surprise a bit. We turned left off of the small dirt road and walked towards the house. Just as I got by the house, Agripina appeared from one of the alleys. She jumped straight into my arms, and had a huge smile on her face. I was beaming too. She said hello to the camera, and told me that she loved me. I asked her where her mother was, she said ‘at home’. She held my hand and guided me around the corner towards the house. We were just outside when Vicki came running out with a big grin on her face too, she nearly fell over just in front of me because she was running so fast. But I picked her up and gave her a big kiss. I was already pretty overwhelmed. With Vicki in my arms, Mama Mary spotted me. With her hands in the air, thanking god, she ran towards me and gave me a massive hug. We kissed and hugged, and kissed again. In Swahili, she kept saying, ‘asante yesu’ ‘thank you god’, ‘thank you brother’, ‘welcome son’ and so on. Suzanne had started crying already by this point. Mama Mary was jumping on the spot, thanking god again I didn’t really know what to say, I just kept telling her that ‘it was a pleasure’ and she ‘deserves it more than anybody’. She held my hand and took me side, ‘karibu kaka’ ‘welcome brother’ she told me. We sat down inside, I felt high. I’d waited and worked towards this moment for well over a year now, my emotions were all over the place. I felt enormously proud, and shared extreme happiness with Mama, which we’d both been waiting a long time for. We sat, laughed, cried, hugged and kissed again. Vicki sat on my lap, and Agripina came and sat next to me. They told me they loved me, I told them that I loved them too. Mama Mary said a prayer.

I’m a bit funny about my religion these days. I like to think that I am Catholic, and that there is somebody watching over me. I just don’t like to think too much into it. I like the thought that Mama Mary has stayed faithful her whole life, and prayed for somebody to come and help her, and I am that person. I am no Angel, I know that, it’s just nice to be doing something good. I’m finding this hard to write now. We sat inside for a while longer, there were lots of children from the village in the house now crowding around the door - they all knew what was going on. Mama sent her eldest daughter to get us some Fanta from the shop. I shared it with the children, and when I’d finished it off, I felt like I needed to go. I was exhausted. I had done nothing physical the whole day, but the emotion just made me tired. Mama Mary and the children walked with us to the Dalla stop. Mama’s face was a picture, a mix of happiness and shock. All her life she’s been waiting.

I went home and watched the video over, and shared it with some other volunteers. Grace and Jennica loved it. The evening carried on but I can’t be bothered to write about much else. That’s enough for now.

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