04 November 2005

Ramadan is over

Today Ramadan is over. Last night somewhere in Côte d'Ivoire someone saw the new moon and it is now official. This morning after the call to prayer we could hear the drums in the distance announcing that this is indeed a new month and that today at 10h00 all those who can will go to their “Friday mosque” for prayers to mark the end of another Ramadan. In town the next few days there will be concerts and parties as well as a lot of kids dressed up going from door to door asking for a “sambé sambé” or a good year gift. It is one of those interesting customs that has crossed religious borders in cities like Bouaké. Kids will dress up in their new clothes and do the same thing at Easter, Tabaski, the end of Ramadan and Christmas. If you are well off, at each one of those fêtes you would have outfits made for each one of your children and then send them out on the streets to ask for gifts. Of course it is considered good form if you give something to the little urchins and you always receive some kind of blessing from them. Usually it comes in the form of, “May God give you many more years” or “May God accord you another year”. So, that is what is going on today as we go from one shop to another and from one courtyard to another to greet our friends on the ending of Ramadan. Of course this means that the rebels are also asking for handouts to help them celebrate the end of Ramadan. So, we take this little space in the information world to wish those of you reading this stuff another year and especially another year in which God gives you His peace and joy.

Well, it happened a few days ago, that two of the large eucalyptus trees that have been standing around Bethel Dorm for well over 30 years now, fell over in a fairly windy storm. They fell on part of the Dinning Hall where most of the cooking takes place. Fortunately even though it was just before supper the French cooks where not in their usual place. The trees fell in such a way that they punctured the roof and damaged the roof structure. None of the masonry was damaged however and the second tree fell next to, just missing, the large butane gas tank that is used to store cooking gas for the kitchen stoves. One of the refrigeration units was damaged but even as I write now a few days later, it is running and seems to have come though the storm without serious problems. The photos may help you understand what I mean by large eucalyptus trees. It would seem that several years ago, while building the gym and the plaza in front of the gym that roots were cut in order to put in some stairs. In cutting a few roots and putting in the stairs to the east of the trees their footing was compromised. As our strongest winds come from the east at either end of the rainy season, this was a setup for disaster waiting to happen. Again, it was fortunate that no one was hurt by them. One side note however, these two trees took out three other trees when they fell. Five trees at once! Now that is a record for this place I do believe.

Our internet café where we do most of our surfing dried up the other day as they have a fairly large bill with the phone company which needs to be paid. For some reason the money that has been paid them has not been used to pay the phone company and so we find ourselves running around looking for another place to do our surfing. I hope to post this today but a lot will depend on whether or not I can find an internet café which is open.

Not much else in the way of news other than to say that we are glad, as always, when Ramadan comes to a close. For some reason fasting all day puts people in a contrary attitude and it becomes difficult to get anything done especially from 16h00 and on. We had a theft this last night which looks like a kid just trying to find some cash for the fête days coming. It is a little unsettling to know that there are people out there who will come into a French military base to steal. Knowing the seriousness with which the French guard their camp we are not too surprised! So goes life in a country where rich Europeans live in a poor and more and more desperate situation. Of course we know that our protection comes not from the French troops living here but from someone far greater.

Thanks for your prayers and for reading this little blurb! May this find you in good health and relatively well if not excellent. Sorry for the long silence. We will try to do better next time.


Lori (Gould, ICA '77) McKee said...

Wow, great story about the trees. Not "great" as in I'm glad it happened - but - interesting. I wonder what Uncle Dennis Grudda and your dad would have to say? Weren't they the master gardeners and tree tenders all those years ago? And I well remember the thieving during Ramadan - seems we lost a rug off our porch (in the first house on the town- and road-side of campus) one time. Hope you find another good surfing site. I didn't realize you didn't get internet access at the school ....

Thanks again for the info, Rod, and hi to Angelika, too.

Robb Family said...

Barbara(Kummerer, ica '84)Robb
Rod thanks for your work...and your updates. I was wondering about the status of the school and found your site. Sounds like your work is challenging.