Saturday, July 25, 2009

Once upon a time at twilight

When I worked in Bonga Refugee Camp (Gambella, Ethiopia) it is no exaggeration to say that I saw true hunger. The term "feast or famine" became very real, for it was in harvest time that food was abundant and in the dry months of March and April that food was scarce and the NGO food trucks would arrive several days late. When you are hungry, you become resourceful. I cannot pretend that I have ever experienced true hunger, but I can say that my time in Bonga taught me to appreciate food and to utilize every possible part of vegetable matter to make a meal (something that I wish that I still did as the amount of food that I waste is truly shameful). As the only vegetarian potentially in the entire region, the lack of meat was of no concern to me. For the Uduk (Sudanese) people that I worked with, this was a great loss. Older men would speak fondly of long days hunting in South Sudan and the thrill and challenge of the chase.

Bush Pig was often spoken of. I never saw one of these creatures, but always imagined it to look something like a wart hog (which I would later see plenty of in Awash National Park). I remember one night towards twilight, the camp became particularly loud with children running and playing and trying to catch something. The air was extra smoky as more fires seemed to be crackling in places that they usually didn't exist. I soon found out that the children were chasing some type of fly with long wings. The smoke was used to encourage the flies to gather near. Once around the smoke, the kids would pounce. Guess what the wings taste like? Bush Pig!

So when N called this week to say that Y was thrilled about bug catching, it didn't take me long to know exactly what type of fly she was so thrilled about. Apparently they are a seasonal "delicacy" (one that city folks do not enjoy). But Y sure seemed to have a good time catching the bugs and pulling off the wings. N and Y spent one whole evening chasing these creatures around the compound and pulling off wings (Apologies to PETA). She would scream in half terror and delight as the flies lethargically flew around her. Not sure if they actually consumed the bugs, but they sure did have fun chasing them. Y is not chasing the bugs out of hunger (for which we are so thankful), but she chases them with a similar resourcefulness mindset and certainly is enjoying the thrill of the hunt.

These stories help me to feel connected. Both to Y and N and to Ethiopia, a country that I am passionately in love with! Still no word on her status, but that only gives the world more time to pray and send out good thoughts!


Rebecca said...

I am sending out good thoughts to you and for you! I'd love to hear more about your volunteer experience. Do you enjoy living in Chicago? I have such wanderlust right now. I really want to find the place to put down roots. It is always a work in progress.

Jen said...

Good thought and prayers for you, Y, and N. What a sweet story. Zach just came back from catching fireflies...and I thought of Y chasing her bug a world away:)

los cazadores said...

Rahel, tonight good thoughts and universal prayers go out from my heart that you may indeed hear something soon on Y. I so enjoyed reading the details of your experience in the Bonga camp here and also about fly catching.


Amanda said...

Rahel, first how do you pronounce Rahel so I say it right in my head instead of Richelle?
I thought I had your blog added to my google reader and that you just posted very infrequently but I just realized that I didn't have you added. So I've just been catching up on your last month or so of posts, and wanted to say I hope everything works out for you and N to adopt Y. I can't imagine all the emotions you guys are going through. Your life is fascinating to me, with all the wonderful work and fun things that you do!