Dear Dorky Mum,
First, thank you for your patience. Me traveling two out of three weeks is not easy on us. The Dorkys like proximity.
I have been to Africa to do my job. Liberia, first, then Mozambique. In both places we drove away from the cities and well into the bush, looking for the outreach and effectiveness of the work Save the Children does.
There was plenty to see. A new birthing clinic in Lua Lua, Mozambique, hosted thirty babies born in the first weeks of operation this spring. They all lived. It wouldn’t have been like that before.
There is a new community health centre in Kingsville, Liberia, that locals walk up to 40 kilometers to reach. Alongside the clinic is a house built especially for the three nurses who staff the centre. When they showed me around their new home, the pride of place was bursting in their smiles. The donor who made it all possible, a kind and thoughtful man, has never seen any of this for himself. He has now promised to make the trip.
There are hard things to witness. It is difficult to imagine Monrovia ever recovering from the atrocities of an extended civil war. There is just one paved road and electricity ends at the edge of the city. Yet Liberians have just re-elected Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as the only female president on the continent, and she has renewed her fight against the corruption that keeps a nation from finding its feet.
Mozambique feels alive; cell phone reception in the most remote corners was better than that in most of London. The evidence of Chinese investment is everywhere, from the sparkling new airport to the luxurious football stadium. There are new Mercedes and Range Rovers on the streets of Maputo.
Most of all, there are the people. I need to be careful here, not to over romanticize or present a false portrait of what I saw. Poverty among the vast majority of the population in both these countries is staggering in scale. They live in difficult to reach villages far away from any sort of medical care. Even with continued efforts of international aid organizations, many die from hunger, disease and neglect. The need for help is urgent and real.
They are like us. They love their husbands and their wives, and they adore their children. The sense of community in each village is like a heartbeat, steady and sure.
They are not like us. We arrived in a remote location in Zambezia to find two hundred people dancing and singing our hello, four men playing a six-foot long marimba, the head man blowing a whistle and throngs of children laughing and smiling and walking along with us. It was intensely fun and cool.
In my early sum of things, I think Africa is about life. I don’t like being away from you and DorkySon. But I am glad I have a chance to help affirm that life in whatever way I can. Africa is a place with a knack for cracking open your heart. That seems like a good thing to me.
With all my love,