Thursday, March 02, 2006

Losing colleagues

It's always good to hear from those of you who actually read my blog; and your messages serve as a bit of a nudge to get me writing again! So today, thank you to Charles in Cameroon for giving me that incentive to get my hands moving again on the keyboard.

And for those of you who look to my blog for reading suggestions, this is what I'm enjoying right now: "Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything" by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. It's been reviewed far and wide (well, in The Guardian Weekly, anyway!). Fascinating stuff. Easily as good as the murder mysteries I don't usually admit to reading.

And now to my heading for today. Tuesday this week was the last day at work for nine guards at our house and office here in Butare, and for around twenty guards based in Kigali. Some had worked in this job for eleven years, but they have lost their jobs to a private security company. So we now have guards wearing uniforms, carrying batons and walkie-talkies (but thankfully no weapons). It was sad to say goodbye to the guards who were colleagues, and who, inevitably, I had come to know. From those who speak French or English I had learned about their children, their aspirations, their hardships. Some have completed secondary school and will have a chance at finding other work; others have not, and in a country where maybe only 15% of the population has paid employment, the loss of this job will have a major impact on the well-being of their families. Our day guard at the house also doubled as our gardener, and, on a selfish note, he will be missed! Since I don't have the time to do all the work involved in taking care of my chickens, they were the first to go: given away. That means no more fresh, free range eggs. And if you want to know if you can taste the difference between a mass-produced egg and a fresh free-range egg, the answer is an unequivocal 'yes'!

Muchy sadder was the loss of a colleague from our Ruhengeri office, Tatien Dusabeyezu, who died recently of a brain tumour. He was friendly and outgoing with a great sense of humour. A former driver from the same office is now in hospital, also apparently with a brain tumour. And a Dutch friend and neighbour who recently returned to the Netherlands when feeling unwell, was also diagnosed with a brain tumour. I have to assume this is all a very sad coincidence.

The good news (I had to find something good to end this with!) is that it has been raining here for the past two weeks - just in time for people to begin planting seeds for this season. Now we pray that the rain will continue! For information on the food shortages affecting various areas of Africa, go to, a web site sponsored by USAID giving detailed information and maps.

Tatien Dusabeyezu giving a lively presentation at our September 2005 Programmes Meeting

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