The Rains

The rains have arrived in all their glory. As the photo indicates, it was a welcome arrival to say the least. Green grass, corn fields, and flowers have sprung up everywhere. Of course, instead of dust we now have mud, but even that can't damper our spirits too much.

I am amazed at how things grow anywhere and everywhere here. Every unoccupied yard has become a corn field. Alleys between houses, what used to be rubbish heaps, the berms beside major roads...they're all corn fields now. Since the main food is made from corn-meal, these fields are essential to survival. So far, it appears it should be a good harvest in October. I pray it is: our house helper had to take a loan of 4-month's salary to pay for the fertilizer in hopes of being able to feed his family for the whole year on his crop!

This time is called the 'season of hunger' because last year's maize is running out about now, and they aren't able to harvest this year's yet. Petty crime escalates as desperation increases. There is a steady flow of beggars at our gate, asking for money and food. The bread, peanut butter and tea we provide our workers for tea is the first meal they have, and they will eat 1 more meal each day, but probably not 2. Only the very young, the very old, and those with chronic illness are dying of starvation around the country, but everywhere we see hunger and malnutrition. It's a haunting time: the rains are falling and everything is growing, yet it's the hardest time for most people. The wealth of color is deceptive as they must wait for the dreary brown of the dry season before the shriveled corn stalks can be harvested. It's somehow fitting for Africa, the land of contradictions: beauty and hardship, green growth and hunger, sun baked fields and another year's sustenance.


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