The year was 1989. I was 6 or 7 years old. My Aunt, who was working for the
We traveled almost every summer after that summer of 1989. But one of my most memorable was our trip in the summer of 1991. I was in 3rd grade then and this time we were to go spend the summer with my Aunt in her new country of assignment. We were off to Sierra Leone. This time, I experienced living in the town of Kabala where there was no running water - we had to fetch water from a deep, deep well, had no electricity - we were all off to bed as soon as the sun went down and would be awaken by the man at the mosque who would wake everyone up to go and pray.We met my Aunt's very close friend and office mate. Her name was Mrs. Razzak, she was Lebanese and supported a household of 11 children and a couple of grandchildren- all whom she "adopted." We would spend hot summer afternoons in their backyard, picking and eating ripe mangoes. We would go on picnics during the weekend and stay entertained by the children's dancing and singing. One time, my Aunt 'ordered' us to join the African women on a trip up country to collect vegetables from the farmers. Boy was that an experience. We rode on a very run down white big truck and rode on a very bumpy road. On our way home, we stopped by Freetown and enjoyed the beach there.
Shortly after my Aunt left her assignment there to move on to another assignment in Yemen,war broke out. We later found out that my Aunt's office, where we used to spend the day roaming around had been bombed. All of her workers were killed. Her driver was able to escape. We asked about Mrs. Razzak and her children. All of Mrs. Razzak's children were killed by the rebels. One time when Mrs. Razzak went back to their office to salvage whatever she could, she did not know there were rebels hiding there. They kidnapped her and held her hostage. She was released after 2 months - never to be the same again. The last we heard, she was brought to the U.S. to seek Psychiatric treatment.
As I look back, I cannot help but regret not paying more attention to what was happening around me back then. I was a child, unaware of how blessed I was to experience different cultures, to meet so many people from so many different places and different backgrounds. This just be one of the best spent summers of my life.