Saturday, 10 December 2011

Bananas for 46, please!

"Bananas for 46, please," Mama Sue asked the owner of a makeshift stall, no bigger than a the smallest garden shed.
We were out for a walk with 38 Happy House kids, teachers, volunteers Lynn, Coral and I and Auntie Violet. .
It was an early start, we set off from the Happy House just after nine,the kids were raring to go and so excited of a walk to Timboni, the nearest village.
Everyone was laughing and singing, just like the African Von Trapp family, as we strolled on the sandy roads under the shade of  palm, mango and casarina trees.
The kids were interested in everything around them, picking up an assortment of leaves, sticks, stones and flowers. Everyone chatttering, when the singing stopped, and even the tinies like Pendo and Sauma, Charity, Neema, Freddie and Linus toddling along as fast as their little legs would carry them, the elder ones holding their hands and encouraging them.
It was the happiest outing,  and so wonderful to see Mama Sue striding out with her family. In the last two years she has fought back to recovery from first a crushed heel and then an emergency hip replacement after a fall in which she also fractured her arm.  I have seen her forcing herself to walk the length of the Happy House, despite being in pain with every step, so it was just heartwarming to be to be out on a walk with Mama Sue, my friend, and all her family.
To be able to do something so ordinary, that most of can take for granted, is a huge turning point for Mama Sue ... she can now, at last, do the things she's dreamt of doing for so long.
As we approached Timboni, just over mile from the Happy House, our happy band turned heads. We stopped for water, 46 bottles, which was welcome as the sun by now was fiercely hot.
From there we followed Auntie Violet as she led us down paths, past an assortment of houses and roadside shops through Timboni In and back on another path towards the Happy House.
Some of the little ones were getting tired by now and the pace slowed to suit them, we stopped to look at cows grazing on the sparse bit of pasture, goats nibbling bark and branches and chickens digging or scurrying through the sand.
Again we stopped, to the surprise of the stallholder and requested 46 bananas. Sadly he didn't have quite enough, but we took what he had and some of the tinies shared. Our bananas were probably the biggest single sale he'd made for months.
The children soon gobbled them up before placing the skins in a basket - Mama, quite rightly, drops a strict "no rubbish" policy- and we were started off, the kids with renewed energy to finish our walk.
By the time we arrived home after a total of two-and-a-half miles, our kids, who had started out so neat and tidy in their Happy House t-shirts - were dusty, sticky and just a little bit tired.
This outing with Sue and the kids, the friend and family I love so dearly, was,for ,me, as near as it gets to a perfect way ending of this visit to the Happy House.

I'll miss you!