Saturday, December 6, 2014

     On Wednesday, we went to the funeral for Frida and Aimable's baby.  First we went to the morgue at a local hospital, the only hospital in town that has refrigeration to keep bodies. ( Aimable returned from his business trip on Tuesday, so the funeral was scheduled for Wednesday.)   There was another family there having a ceremony for a 4 year old boy who had died.   After they finished and moved out, we all filed into the morgue.  The baby was in his little casket on a morgue table that had been covered with a white cloth.  The refrigerated holding cubbies lined one wall.  The group of mourners walked in, looked at the baby and then formed a circle around him.  There was a short service which consisted of a hymn, a prayer, and a short talk by the branch president.  After this, the baby's casket was loaded in the back of a Landcruiser for the trip to the cemetery.   A bus was there to transport people to the cemetery, and the bus plus several personal vehicles formed a procession with blinking lights.

We were following the cruiser with the baby.  Here we are on our way to the cemetery.

The cemetery is vast, full of trees, grass and dirt roads.  Quite beautiful, really.


When we arrived, we found a grave had been dug.  It was small, lined with bricks.  Over the top of the hole, a piece of sheet metal had been placed.

The ceremony at the gravesite consisted of a grave dedication by Jean Paul and some hymns.

The baby's casket was then lowered into the grave by two men using two straps to gently place it in the tomb.

Close relatives then approached the grave and dropped flower petals in.

The piece of sheet metal was put back on top of the hole, after which a single layer of bricks was laid on top of the metal.  A batch of cement was mixed on the ground, and then they proceeded to cover the entire grave with the concrete.  During this process, we sang hymn after hymn until it was completed.

     The parents and grandparents placed flowers on the grave.  You can see his name on the cross is Precious Burundi.  (Burundi is his father's last name.)

     From the cemetery, we all drove to a covered reception hall for a final meeting of the day.   Before  entering, each one of us did a symbolic washing of the hands.  When you participate in a burial, you need to wash your hands to become clean again.  Everyone there "participated in the burial" by attending the funeral.  This is Gary washing his hands.

There were about 150 of us gathered in the reception hall.  Of course, we all had a Fanta to drink.  Then a member of the family stood and thanked everyone for coming, and we went home.
It was a hard, hard day for Frida and Aimable.  I think the most excruciating fact is that their baby did not have to die.  With good medical attention, he would be alive today.

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