Tuesday, 3 July 2012


Some how this got deleted accidentally so I'll pop it up again! :)

Bus rides are a social phenomenon. I only just realized the other day that a simple ride on the bus is actually a well choreographed maneuver that we human beings perform every day. 
I stood in the queue to board the bus, while in this queue I saw a person nearby me, no, more of an 'acquaintance'. We are the Facebook friends who really couldn't get passed the "Hihowareyou's" if we were passing each other by. With this observation I faced back to the bus and boarded, after talking a little about the "All of a sudden how cold it is!" weather with the bus driver I then turned to the most complex part if this bussing exercise- taking your seat. As my chemistry teacher once explained to me, the rule is exactly like electron pairs, we each take a seat between people. Not directly beside anyone unless it is absolutely necessary and a far enough distance towards the back of the bus to let our 'acquaintance' decide whether they would want to make conversation about uni exams or if they'd prefer to Ipod zone-out today. Yet even then I saw that a bald man would rather stand and sway with the buses turns and brakes than sit next to another suited worker. What is it about us that makes this distance so normal? Not only on buses, but in life we generally live in houses fenced off from our neighbours, we choose to sit at a cafe table one over from others and uni seating gets straight up ridiculous when we take the aisle seat 20 seats away from our fellow student. In all of this, it seems as if we are so separate in what we do, which tends to define who we are in some sense. 
I guess this is one of the things that the people in Mali showed me, community, and what it really means to live to support your people. In the village of Kog'Noumami we met Donki. In this village we also met an entire community who came out to welcome us in a little circle of broken benches and stools. In this village we were told that they had only 19 days of rain in the entire year. In 2011, Auckland got 130 days of it. This means there literally isn't enough water to grow crops in. Donki and her village were rationing out 500 grams of millet each to live on daily. One man told us that he can't sleep at night because it is so stressful not knowing whether or not there will be enough food for his people in a few months time. These people who he lives with, farms with, shares with and loves so completely are unsure of the next chapter. But the thing is, right after the people told us this, Donki took us into the room where they cook their millet. We walked inside the roasted black room and as flies darted around the millet porridge bowls Donki came up to us and offered us her bowl of peanuts. Now the thing about peanuts is that they are a treat. The staple diet for Donki is millet, so when it comes to taste, peanuts ROCK! After we had just been told this village does not have enough food to last till next harvest, Donki offered us her food, her treat, her best, as if I was offering you a plate of nibbles over dinner. We had known Donki, her family and friends for a few hours and she was giving us all she had when she is the one suffering. I guess in that moment I was overwhelmed by this sense of love and care... this community they had welcomed me into.
This genuine and natural love that overflowed from Donki and so many other people I met in Mali is challenging me, and I am glad. They have made me think about how I view other people around me, would I give them my last peanut? Or would I fight them for it? How do I actually look at my community when I'm the one who sits separate from acquaintances on short bus rides. Not only that, but how do we see the people in Mali? I know that I once viewed them as separate from me, too different to relate to. Now I see them as people I look up to and am completely humbled by. They know what community is and how to care for each other. They offer us our best, can we offer them anything less?

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