There are certain points in our lives where we realize the fragility and vulnerability of it all. This week, although I have been here in the US, spending time with my grandparents while Adam is away, I have been reminded of our vulnerability. With talk on the news of Ebola, Enterovirus-98, and wars in countries that are closer than they seem, all while viewing the pictures of the Nazi death camps that Adam had a chance to tour this week in Poland, it has become evident again to me of our vulnerability. Below is a post I wrote, from a time I was feeling very vulnerable when we lived in Kenya.
The Humanitarian Experience: BONDING OVER RIOTS (AUG. 2013)
I was talking with a co-worker the other day about an incident that occurred a few weeks a
go as the sun was setting over Nairobi. Our van got stuck in the mud on the way to pick up a friend. My husband who is our only licensed driver was the pilot and I was the only other person one who knew where our friend lived. It was up to me to go out into the night and find our friend. I took one a dude co-worker with me and started to walk with confidence in order to blend into our setting.
As I was talking to my co-worker about the night we got stuck in the mud, I said “Hopefully that will be the worst thing we have to encounter”, due to the fact that the area we were in can be slightly dangerous at night – sorry mom. Anyways, my co-worker replied to me “Umm, did you forget about the RIOT?!”
Yes, I had. Maybe I was choosing to forget, or maybe I was more scared of the dark either way, she is right, the riot was probably the most intense situation we have experienced.
It was a normal weekday morning. Our ESL classes were in full swing and I was working in my office, administrating and such. As I was working I began to hear the street sounds, which are pretty loud on a normal basis, become extremely loud. I begin to hear cars backfiring and a few loud yells. I continued to work, maybe it was a protest, maybe it was just a traffic jam, maybe it was just me being paranoid. I waited a few more minutes.
And then with some courage, not much, but some, I decided to step out of the office. The noise was not normal. It had gone up several decibels and I realized the car backfiring sounds were gun shots. I looked at our guard and he could see the concern on my face. I asked him what is going on. And through his reassuring smile and explanation, I found that some thieves had been chased into the small shanty neighborhood across the street and the police were on a chase through lines of shacks firing their weapons. The shanty-shack neighborhood had become angry at the police for some reason and they were rebelling by throwing large stones in an attempt to get the police out.
With this information I went to find my husband and the other teacher. I explained that a riot was forming and we decided it was time to leave. We exited the building with our courageous students and quickly walked in the other direction towards home. We departed from our students in a safe place and with as much joy I could muster at that time, I smiled at them and said, I will text you all if it is safe to come back tomorrow.
Once we returned home we found a news report online that explained the reason for the riot. A woman was unfortunately caught in the cross-fire. And as we sat on our bed in slight disbelief that we had just run from a riot my husband’s phone went off due to an incoming text.
The text was from one of our students. It said “Sir, did you get home safe.” I smiled. I was worried for our students the whole time, and they were just as worried for us.
The next day peace reigned again and all of our students, plus one new student showed up for classes. Talk about a bonding experience.
In conclusion, If that is the last and worst riot I encounter I will be glad of it.