Friday, April 17, 2015

     It's always good to remember that living in Africa is not exactly like living at home in the U. S.  In Malawi, a visiting Church leader was explaining to the members about fasting on fast Sunday.  He told them that when they fast, they should skip two meals and begin and end their fast with prayer.  The next time he visited with this ward, he asked them how their fast had gone for fast Sunday.  They said it was good.  He then asked them when they had started their fast, and they replied they had started it on Friday.  He suddenly realized that the people there eat only one meal a day, so to skip 2 meals they needed to skip their Friday meal and their Saturday meal.  They actually had not had anything to eat since Thursday.  But they had no complaints and were happy with their fast.  I guess instructions need to be modified for the area!

     Gian Franco went to the interior with 2 doctors to see what they can do for 108 children who are in danger of starving to death.  Many are orphans.  Gian Franco took with him a muringa powder, which is high on nutrients such as calcium, protein, and vitamin C.  They plan to put this powder is a small amount of vegetable soup and slowly start feeding the children whose stomachs have shrunken to almost nothing.  Hopefully in a month they will be doing much better.  There are still so many here who suffer from malnutrition and eventually starvation.  Blows my mind.

     The lines at the gas stations remain long.  For some reason there are still problems with the gasoline supply.

     This week has been a week of protests.  Three this week.  We are warned to avoid them, but on our way to the baptisms last Saturday, we ended up in the middle of one.  It was a friendly demonstration, however, as it was arranged and sponsored by the ruling government.  The police there were helping the march proceed down the street.  Everyone had balloons, and there were multiple truckloads of people in the middle of those who were walking.

Yesterday, Friday, we had been advised there would be another demonstration, this one against the current president and ruling party.  This one was organized by people who don't support the current president and who are totally against his running for a third term, which is unconstitutional and unlawful.  The demonstration was planned for 2:00pm.  Friday morning at 10:00am I went to have my hair cut.  While there, the owner of the salon was talking about the upcoming demonstration, saying she had been told that the police were going to disrupt and harass the participants, perhaps getting violent with them.  She warned me not to go downtown.  Everywhere we went today there was a menacing police presence.  There were large trucks full of armed police, police standing in groups on every 
corner.  Sure enough, when the demonstration began, the police surrounded the group of people assembled  at Independence Square.  Things went bad, with police beating people, using tear gas and water cannons, arresting people.  They blocked the roads leading to Independence Square, making it difficult for people to get there.  I read a news release about the event that stated the violence started when some demonstrators threw rocks at the police, but I knew this morning there would be an incident---it was not so much anticipated; more like it was planned.  It seems this government is determined to stay in power.  So much for democracy in Burundi.

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