Monday, October 08, 2007

When i needed a neighbour...

I like to take a walk before sunset, just to get a bit of exercise after the heat of the day. Usually people will greet me, either in English or Swahili, which makes the whole experience very pleasant. For many local people it's quite amusing to see a muzungu (foreigner) walking along the road - usually we are expected to be driving a 4wd or at least sitting in a matatu.

The other day just as I was returning to the compound a man greeted me with particular enthusiasm. He was telling me that his vehicle had lost its wheel, and when I looked over at the vehicle parked directly opposite our centre, I could see that lots of people were standing around it, and it had indeed lost a wheel. He wasn't sure if they would get the vehicle working again before night. He had seen the sign for the Friends Peace Centre, and since he was also a Quaker he thought he would ask if we have rooms available.

I think he assumed that because I was white that I must be in charge. So it felt good to say that I would have to check with my boss. We aren't exactly a guest house, even though we do have beds there. I was a bit apprehensive about calling my boss. She is very easy going, but in Australia you just don't invite strangers into your home. I needn't have worried. Getry was very pleased at the idea of helping out, and instructed me to organise some tea for them. She even brought a friend with her who was a mechanic, and he helped get the car to the point that it could be driven the next day at least as far as a proper mechanic. We cooked a bit extra for dinner, and I went and made up the beds. Then everyone shared a meal, and went to bed very satisfied. The usual "appreciation" ritual took place the next day, and I felt sad that this doesn't happen more often in Australia. It's nice being able to help out once in a while.

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