Today I was invited to speak to the Tuesday Group in the village of Bubwith, on the time I spent in West Africa as a development worker. It has been a while since I have given a presentation on this (2006 if I recall), but needless to say with the help of a few slides it was great to recall that very special time from 1988 to ’92.
I’d forgotten my cement block house in the village of Kerewan with it's corrugate roof and glassless windows, the delights of using a pit latrine and bucket baths instead of a proper toilet or shower (as we had no running water or electricity), about the heat, the humidity and mosquitoes, and about the basic food I ate for months on end, including the total absence of cheese, bacon and mushrooms.
It seems so long ago that I had the misfortune to contract malaria and dysentery, and break my toe in the same month.
I do drift back on occasions - when I chose to listen to African music, listen to the BBC World Service or eat African food, but today it was great to deliberately take myself back to those great times. I think it went down quite well with the audience as they were still interested after over an hour and continued to ask questions after I’d finished.
It got a little emotional at the end when I spoke about the two members of my 'African Family' that 'adopted' me whilst out there - who with a little input from me all those years ago have become very successful in their own right.
Please see http://paul-robinson-howdenshire.blogspot.com/2008/07/africa-remembered.html
Anne Smith, the organiser and Chairman of Bubwith Parish Council was very kind in her comments at the end when she said, “I now understand why nothing you are hit with as an East Riding of Yorkshire Councillor phases you - after all that you went through in Africa”.
I think she may have a point!