The first of the McCropder families is in a permanent house. We, the McLaughlins, moved in about 3 weeks ago, and have been loving the space and the sense of settling. Thanks to all that have made this possible.
|Celebrating my 33rd birthday in the new house. (Yes, that is quite a couch.)|
After several years of living in temporary housing (since we left our home in 2009, remember that saga?), the luxury of this nice house all to ourselves weighs on us a bit. This is certainly added to by the poverty that is all around us. We've written about these tensions before (and I'm sure we will again), but there is another side to that coin.
A while ago, we decided that, at the end of every major construction project (like a house) we will celebrate in traditional Kirundian fashion: A Goat Roast.
Everyone takes the afternoon off, and all the workers get to sit down, rest, drink a Fanta, and enjoy a goat-based meal. And, like every good African ceremony, no one can enjoy themselves unless there are several speeches made (a phenomenon inexplicable to us Americans). So last Saturday, we hosted the first of these feasts.
|Several workers getting the meal ready|
|Anna helping out, peeling boiled plantains|
Five goats were purchased, and several crates of sodas. The meal was rounded out by boiled and fried plantains topped with a tomatoey sauce. Roughly 100 guys (and a few ladies) came to enjoy the food, the drinks, and the speeches. I received a lot of applause for my line of "Nizeye ko, mu misi iza, tuzokwubaka izindi nzu, kandi tuzofungura izindi mpene nyinshi", which translates as "I hope that, in the days to come, we will build more buildings, and we will eat many more goats."
And that's kind of the point. Not the goats, but the fact that our presence here has been employing over a hundred people steadily, some of them for close to a year now, and with the expansion projects of the hospital, I wanted to encourage them that we hope there will be steady employment for them for quite a while.
There are days that, from a development standpoint, it seems that one of the best things we do is just to live here and be (relatively) wealthy westerners. There couldn't be a more uncomfortable role for us, but if you look, you can find signs of development. More builders riding bikes to work instead of walking. That guy is wearing a nice new shirt. That other guy got glasses. And these things weren't gifts. It was a result of needed, viable employment, and in the process, needed buildings are built, and these guys provide for their families while increasing their skill level and work experience. Here's the group (it's a bit hard to appreciate how many of them there are here).
So there is a lot to celebrate: The comfort of a new home, the completion of a long process, the necessary help from a bunch of workers, and the steady employment of the equivalent of a decent sized village. A good day.