Sunday, 4 February 2007


It's true that every one has a story, we all have a past which helps form our present. Some have trauma, hardship or misfortune, some have sadness, pain or loneliness; some are blessed with love, joy and contentment. Most have a combination of the above gelled together by circumstance. In the diversity work I've done in businesses, we look at the factors that make us who we are. One piece of the puzzle - which is often glossed over - is Geographical Location, i.e. the place we are born and where we live.
The people of Buduburam too have stories, but the time of their birth and the random handout of fate meant that their mothers sweated and screamed to push them out into a continent of hardship and a region destined to give them horrors and displacement.
As people have got to know me, their stories slowly unfold only prompted when the moment is apt and with, I hope, sensitivity. On the surface you can fool yourself into believing that everyone is fairly ok, they mostly dress ok, they have an infrastructure of sorts and a routine, people seem to be getting by. But if you look deeper, really see that they're not slim but thin; look into their eyes and notice the desperation behind the greeting, the pride concealing pain. I could relate the details of where the stories were told to me, the atmosphere and silences; I could retell how they spoke with emphasis and colour or with muted awkwardness. Some spoke with great gesture, smiling to reassure that 'they're fine now', others find it harder to conceal the trauma and a flick of the hand from a heavy slouch gestures to their minds to halt the redding of their eyes.
I'm not a reporter - it's not my place to poorly regurgitate the truth of these refugees lives, but there is a commonality to the stories outside of 'Geographical Location': Violence. The ingredients may alter; my mother ... my sister ... brother ... me; I was abandoned ... betrayed ... captured; they mutilated me ... tortured ... killed. The stories can differ so, thus making them freshly horrific: The intellectual, confident 21 year old who has become a pal to me, he jokes while he says he was told to lie on a pile of dead bodies to be more easily shot, but his refusal to do so and ability to talk to his captors meant he instead became their 'pet', at the age of six. The matriarchal woman who we sometimes go to for food who was bound so tightly her upper arms bear the rope scars. The seventeen year old boy who quietly, bitterly confesses he has thoughts of suicide because his mother, brother and sister have not eaten for days again and he doesn't know what to do about it, feeling caught between boy and manhood. The gentle lady who works where I stay, such soft features and usually playful eyes - she was forced to leave her brother's body at the side of the road on the walk from Liberia to Ghana. He'd been bound in chains and set alight.
SO many stories; most are separated from siblings, parents or children but pray that wherever they are, they are 'doing well'.
Yes, all of us have a story, but the people of Budu are in the thick of theirs and are still hungry, still sick, still waiting for a miracle to take them away from Ghana.


Pauline said...

Beautifully written, and very moving. Take care, see you Wednesday xxx

Skempers said...

Thanks for your blog Dystin. It has been a huge insight and very moving.

Sarah x

maldoror said...

Hello D - Hope you are well. Is strange to write so beautifully about such horror. Piercingly too. I get the idea that it all makes perfect sense as well as making no sense at all. Look forward to catching up with you upon return.


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