13 January 2011

100 Planes Crash - 26,500 People Killed

Monday 13th December - My Last Day in Kenya

I could have stayed in bed all morning but as John Felix slept, I completed my packing and showered.  Moses was collecting us around 8.30 am and as it was only 8:00 am I had plenty of time.   “Come on John”, I coaxed, “Time to get up! What would you like for breakfast?”  Aware that he usually only had bread, I’d bought in juice and planned on having toast or even eggs.  As I wondered what time Moses would appear, I suddenly heard some guitar music playing.  “What’s going on?” I checked my watch – 8.05 am. I then thought I heard some unmistakeable laughter. “Surely, he’s not here already??” I opened my bedroom door and peered over the mezanine balcony.

“Good morning” chorused not only Moses, but Tatu, Vashni and Paul James.  As they played and sang, I saw that Eric had already made them welcome and given them breakfast.  What a wonderful sight to greet me and what a wonderful send off for this was the day I was leaving to return to France.

I dragged my heels on the way to the airport.  As for John Felix, he grew quieter and quieter .... wouldn’t eat any breakfast.  Eventually as we climbed out of the car at the airport, the tears came.  The little boy just cried and cried. We all tried to comfort him, but to no avail.  We all tried to explain that I had to leave but I was coming back.  As I pulled him onto my knee and hugged him close, his tears not to mention his nose ‘dribbled’ all down my clean t shirt.  I didn’t mind one bit.  It was as if every bit of emotion that child had been hanging on to for the last ten years was released there and then.  Eventually, we walked together around the perimeter fence and made our promises. I bit my lip handing John Felix over to his other 'mum', Tatu, I bit my lip as I said goodbye to Moses and Paul James, I bit my lip as I walked across the tarmac until I was safely inside the plane.....

So it’s now the middle of January.  My return to ‘normal’ life wasn’t quite so hard this time.  After my first trip, there were many nights when I would wake and not be able to go back to sleep worrying about all the kids.  This time has been different.  I look back on the photographs of Eric, Magdalena, Evelyn, John Felix, Ruth and her siblings and smile. Together we have made such a difference to their lives and I know that together we will continue to make it happen.

Bono famously said “If you want to eliminate hunger, everybody has to be involved”.  So my job now is to start by raising awareness. So just for a moment, I want you to imagine a newspaper headline that says, "One Hundred Jetliners Crash, Killing 26,500”. Think of the worldwide media frenzy and implications of this one event as everyone shared the shocking news. Now imagine, the very next day that another 100 jetliners crashed and another hundred the day after that, and then following day ….. but no one did anything about it. It is an unimaginable situation but it will happen today for the world's hungry children and it will continue to happen.  Almost 10 million children will be dead from hunger related causes in the course of this year. And then another 10 million next year and 10 million the year after that.

Let’s try and shrink the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ of this world. A single airline crash can dominate the news for days so why does the equivalent of 100 planes, each filled with children, crashing on a daily basis, never reach our ears?

Each one of us has a something we can contribute. Whether that is Thomas letting me use his Air Miles for my flights or taking over my role with Guy and Kitty whilst I’m away, Angela sending over a bag of fabric for Violet to practice her sewing on, maybe buying some chickens in place of giving someone an ‘unwanted’ wedding gift, everyone has something of value they can offer be it financial or otherwise. I have prepared a short presentation on my Africa experiences – if you’re looking for a guest speaker for an event you are holding, then please get in touch – I’m willing to travel.

 Thank you for allowing me to raise your awareness!  My next instalment will be after the Easter break when I return to Kenya, this time with Guy and Kitty.

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