A little girl came screaming into the surf camp. And by the time everyone rushed to their home, there were only 4 corner posts and black ash on the floor. A charred bedframe. A line of clothes hanging on barbed wire which had escaped. A dead dog, suffocated. The baby was dragged out just in time. The girl had been playing with matches and her dad was away, building roofs from palms as his was up in flames. Here is the video of local house burning down filmed by a local.
But when Carla and I arrived later that day, to see what we could do to help, the family were surrounded by neighbours, friends, all chatting, smiling. The dad was back at work, earning more important than ever. There was a morose feeling in the air but also a feeling that this was just another day. And that it was God’s decision. And that everyone would muck in and help them rebuild what little material goods they had in the first place.
We cobbled together a bag of clothes from gringos at a nearby hostel and offered to cook the family dinner now that we had a stove. One of my students, Marcelo, passed by our house that morning with a bag of fish he had caught. We bought 5 and suddenly all our friends were there – surfer dude Charles, sweet Armando, 13 yr old Derrien as sharp as his smile is wide, tiny cute Enok who is constantly covered in dirt. We don’t have a fridge so we had to work fast to stop the flies eating our dinner before us.
Onion, tomato, the whole fish gutted swiftly by Armando, stock, tomato juice, pasta, corn. The boys were in charge.
The soup bubbled while I drew cards for teaching later. ‘He is playing football, they are dancing’
And our neighbour came round with coconuts – cool juice, fleshy white heart and we gave them mangoes in return, falling in dull thumps in our garden.
Just the dad and daughter came round for food later, the mum taken away by friends to try and take her mind away. Sweat dripped down our foreheads as we ate the spicy soup, a mouth of bones, but tasty. Hopefully within a week they will start building their house again. Scrape away the ash and start again.