A friend asked me recently what my breaking point was. This came on the heels of my umpteenth illness. I answered: There isn't one. For me, there was a tipping point for sure after the 4th bout of malaria. There have been many boiling points, for instance when I spend the entire day planning a training (visiting the far-away sector, meeting the Executive Secretary, convincing Daniel to volunteer again, gathering the materials, typing up the proposal, three hours on a moto) only to have the Director of Education nix it without explanation. Or when I'm left for three weeks over the holidays in a house full of raw sewage or when for some reason getting mosquito screens put on the windows of the new house takes an inordinate amount of time.. (still not done by the way). There are many boiling points. But despite having been sick almost the entire time I've been here, there is no breaking point. There is just being here. That's the point. Every illness I've had is treatable. I am still able to be productive, to impact those around me and the day I can no longer be of service or of use, I'll go home. Of course there are easier places to live and work. There's this whole philosophy which informs my decisions and it revolves around the idea that suffering is optional. We choose our life's perspective, n'est pas? I can get really down about the malaria, typhoid, amoebas, pneumonia but what purpose does that serve? Now, it's definitely not all rainbows and butterflies but as I stated in my Christmas blog, it's my system's weakness that is to blame. I am perhaps not sturdy enough for this country. But I love it here. This afternoon as I moto'ed back from Kamonyi, I had one of those epiphanies which I can only relate back to a scene from a movie. Meg Ryan in City of Angels is riding her bike and taking notice of the warmth of the sun (yes, right before she gets creamed by the truck). Today I noticed the beauty of it all. The green hills, the giggling children, the blue blue skies. Yeah, I did also take into account the speeding trucks and rough gravel not wanting Meg Ryan's fate. I enjoyed Art Club this afternoon instead of stressing out if everyone was successful with their pipe cleaner butterflies, I sat down beside Evelyn and Francois and helped Mohammed make his. We then made buzzing sounds and pretended to sting each other with our yellow and red insects. As we walked back to the road, there was competition for hand-holding rights. Mohammed was walking beside me with my arm draped around his shoulder. Another boy jostled unsuccessfully for the position and once the scuffle ended, I reached for Mo's hand again. He took my wrist and draped my arm around his shoulder once more, his preference. This country will break your heart. A sentiment I wrote about ages ago. I have so many thoughts about leaving-which for the record is six short weeks away. I have a To-Do List about a mile long. It will never be enough.
Much thought has gone into who and in what capacity I can help people before I go and it's come down to ten. I will help these ten people. Not all in a financial capacity by the way, for the most part I believe charity is in doing not in giving. I'll let you know how it goes but the first one on the list, Marie (mother of JeanPaul and the first to befriend me in the neighbourhood back in May) has already received from me and I know deep down it was the right thing to do. Emmanuel's is happening on Monday. Kate's is in progress. I realize that all I want to do before I go may not be accomplished and being a results-oriented person this may be disappointing. I will have to come to terms with it somehow.
The tipping point, the boiling point- just being here and being with people, that's the point.