Thursday, November 1, 2012
When elephants fight, the grass gets hurt
In July,1995, I wrote this to my granddaughter:
Last year at this time, day after day and week after week, people around the world watched television reports and read articles about Rwanda’s civil war.
Over a three-month period, nearly a million people died unspeakable, gruesome deaths. I nearly grew faint when I saw pictures on TV and heard details.
A pilot friend of ours stood beside a river and counted fifty to sixty bodies float past him every minute.
East Africans have a proverb: Wapiganapo tembo nyasi huumia—When elephants fight, the grass gets hurt. When the powerful fight each other, they trample on the weak and innocent. That’s what happened in Rwanda, and it broke my heart.
Rwanda’s atrocities also touched our friend, Sue, a fellow trainee during Kenya Safari. I wrote an article about her experience for this summer’s issue of Wycliffe’s In Other Words magazine.
Sue and her coworker, Ann, “moved house” to Bukavu, in eastern Zaire, to begin their work assignments.
They had lived there only a week when, on their way to church on Sunday, they noticed people gathered in an open area and sensed tension in the air.
After the church service, Sue and Ann saw that Rwandan refugees had set up primitive shelters.
By that evening, hordes of Rwandans filled the dusty roads into Bukavu carrying babies, food, and firewood. Day after day, the two women watched thousands of people make their way into town—stunned, exhausted, sick, and malnourished. Some didn’t even have shelters.
Sue and Ann struggled with guilt, they said, because they were not refugees themselves, guilt because they had so much and the Rwandans had so little.
They wept for the refugees. They prayed for them. They gave them money and food. They befriended them and prayed with them.
They listened to weary relief workers, overwhelmed and dazed by the refugees’ anguish. I’m sure those refugees and relief workers sensed that God Himself reached out to them through Sue and Ann.
May He bless them all, especially the Rwandans. (from Chapter 10, Grandma’s Letters from Africa)