Today we conclude the first seminar on Trauma Healing. I’m back to teaching today on the bio-chemistry of the brain – riveting stuff. The most entertaining part was watching the participants try to translate the complex terms. We were able to chase a great rabbit trail when I explained the effects of a prefrontal lobotomy. The questions were so fascinating and unexpected that I found myself just laughing. I don’t think there any squeamish people in Africa. Stuff that would gross out most of us, is a routine part of life for them.
The interesting part of the day was with the kids. Each day while those of us that are teaching are with the adults in the conference room, Chris has the teens with him. Somewhere early in the day they all trek up to the wall that surrounds the campus to make repairs. The wall was originally built with mud instead of mortar. Naturally, the bugs that are always in abundant supply, have been eating their way through the mud leaving the wall vulnerable to tumbling over. The kids are given cement mortar and home-made tools to re-mortar the wall. Their vast skill in masonry work really comes in handy here – Oh, wait, they have no skill or experience. Oh well. They can shove cement in the gaps and it will be a huge improvement. After repairing the wall it is time for lunch. Then the local kids show up for the afternoon programming. This is an experience. Initially some kids were brought in by a community representative from some of the better areas of town. This was effective in lulling our teens into a contented complacency with the mindset of, “We can do this. It isn’t so bad.” Then on the second day of programming, the Twa children showed up in force. It is difficult to find the right adjectives for these children. While the children from town have some reasonable social skills, the Twa have never been socialized. The Twa represent about one percent of the population of Burundi – the poorest one percent. You probably know them better as Pygmies. These children are smaller, dirtier and more assertive than the town children. All of their clothes appear to be the same color – dirt brown. When these little imps were released on our teens, the teens’ complacency was shattered. They found that instructions are something to be ignored, kindness is something to be exploited for personal gain, and limits don’t exist. The teens were able to watch “The Lord of the Flies” played out right in front of them. Tonight the teens came to dinner dirty, exhausted, and looking much like the Twa children. I thoroughly enjoyed it.