Sunday, September 20, 2015

Oh, Happy Day!

The day had finally arrived when we were to start unloading the boat! Yeah! We are happy to see the bags and containers leave so we can have our space back. The villagers are waiting in anticipation for what surprises (as they often call “prizes”) we have for them. Since there are so many bags, it was decided to start with the rice, milk and household items first.

We gave them our old mainsail plus three other sails that had been donated. Of course, they will cut them into smaller sails for their outrigger canoes, but for now our sail will serve as the staging area. Picture a snow white sail laying on the dirt about to be trampled by 200 dirty bare feet. What a sight! But it is a great use for a retired Hallberg-Rassy 46 sail!

The Community Committee was in charge of dispersing the goods fairly. They went about setting out 50 bags of rice (5 kg each), a bucket, bowl or dishpan and a can of powdered milk. Then they dropped in one teaspoon, a single cooking utensil, plates, cups, etc. and one of anything they could spread around. The concept of keeping a “set” of anything together for a family was beyond them. So much for my careful shopping! In the end, everyone had a number of things – a pot in one household with its lid in another! My western mindset doesn’t translate well here and I have to keep reminding myself of that.

The people were happy and it pleased the chiefs that there was food for all. Hunger is a big concern for the chiefs. There is not much they can do until the harvest is ready, though. And, of course, safe drinking water is a huge concern. I don’t know how these people manage in the warm climate and sun without much water. They must be dehydrated. And this is winter so it is cooler now, but with spring and hot summer coming soon, the situation will be more severe unless they can get help with the water issue.
Next we started dumping the bags of children’s clothing. We put boys at one end and girls at the other. The bags had been labeled by ages so we tried to explain that, but totally missed! Everyone waited for it all to be placed on the sail and for the Chief Kaisa and “Mr. Dennis” to speak, then it was a free for all!

The instructions were for the little ones to go first with the mothers and each get something to wear – one or two items only. Right! The little ones and the big ones and the parents just started scooping up by the armful. These people are so desperate for food, water and clothing that they could not contain the excitement and control themselves. It was wild! I have a wonderful video of it all!

In the end, the children’s clothing was gone. Only one family missed out as the mother was the Kindy teacher and not there for the chaos. She has six children. Fortunately, we still had a lot of things on the boat designated for Awei so we able to meet her and her six children and give them clothing a day later. We hauled a large bag of goods up the hill to their house and handed out several pieces of clothing to each of them.

Unfortunately, in the distribution process, we could not keep track of what was being put out into the lots of 50 rice piles and we lost a few things that were designated for other areas. The big bag of red exercise books intended for the school were grabbed up by the adults! They are so hungry for things to call their own. We also lost track of the New Testament Bibles donated to the church so hopefully they ended up in the hands of those who will use them.

We learned a lesson on this one, so we strategized on how to deliver the dresses to the ladies and the adult clothing to the men in a more orderly fashion. And it was decided to be done on other days – one for the ladies and another day for the men. I personally enjoyed making the men wait to the end as in this society, the men always are first!


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