While the lockdowns are decimating Africa’s economies without a safety net, its people are strong. For their attitude is often based on a deep sense of trust. It provides an everyday-meaning to “Yes, I can”. And it is a source of recovery and resilience. An invaluable advantage in the crisis. And we will need it. Because after the lockdown, the challenge will be greater than during or before. A huge wave of hardship is rolling through many countries. It will stretch Kids of Africa, too. A brief report from week 14 in quarantine.
The biggest challenge
Crazy, actually. While no one in Uganda has died of the corona virus and its young population of 40 million people currently numbers 849 infected, the country is experiencing a dramatic excess mortality rate – the collateral damage of the lockdowns. Hunger, malaria or diarrhea, which are often no longer treated, demand a high toll. But relaxation is in the air. There is no other way. Alas, we also know: after the loosening, an unprecedented wave of misery will be encountered. Countless people are impoverished, weakened and without jobs. Our schools will struggle to charge school fees. More importantly, we must reach out to help others get back on their feet.
For our sustainable development work, the greatest economic challenge is only now ahead.
Village life, week 14
Our precious water supply was taken away by the storms of the last weeks, so that we could no longer pump ground water. Fortunately our rainwater cisterns are still full to the brim. Yesterday we could repair the system and the deep water pipe again. The art of fixing things which are broken is an art of living in Africa. It also creates resilience in times of need.
Who is stronger?
Joy and Susan are arm-wrestling. Little Michael, one of the youngest students, is part spectator, part referee. Pay attention to one detail: after 14 weeks of quarantine, the children are mentally and as a community perhaps stronger than ever. If the saying “Stand up – what doesn’t knock you down makes you stronger” needs any illustration, we see it in the kids in our little village. They grew beyond themselves during the past 14 weeks. They cared for themselves and their whole life community in solidarity.
It was their victory of will over necessity.
Sandals for everyone
This week our children have produced new sandals made from old materials for all members of our community.
“If” – A loving letter from a father to his young son
Rudyard Kipling (1865 – 1936), author of the “Jungle Book” and the first English recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, dedicated a loving poem to his young son in 1895 about the power of values. He wrote the poem in Cape Town, South Africa. It speaks gracefully of the things that strengthen us – here and in Africa. That’s why I would like to quote it here.
If (By Rudyard Kipling)
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!